Wewe Vasha wewe katuona sisi bwege ati sisi bata mzinga na wanataka chicks (18-24 yrs.) Sasa tufanye nini sisi isipokuwa kuvumilia. Na vile maisha yamekuwa ngumu; kavagara ndio hiyo 230. Kwa nini wasiongezee tu Unga wa Dola na 210? Hawa waséé haki, Petroli ndio hiyo, mafuta halisi ya kupikia, sitaki hata kutaja. Nawezajipata nikipiga duru gakii mogaka, the way mama would put her hands on her head and release a shrill scream so that her voice would transcend through the whole valley as she warned people of the cattle thieves’ whereabout. (Mambatīrīire ya Gatūnai.’ Ever since Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta announced that the Safari rally would be an annual event; our men have been counting the months, the weeks, the minutes and the seconds like a young boy awaiting to go on a school trip. I mean the other day my fourth grader was going on a trip and he was even telling me that he was dreaming of being left by the school bus. This thing has now turned from being nostalgic to being traumatic. Ooh if we could turn back the hand of time to those childhood days when that vroooommm vroooommm brought intense joy and reckless abandon and pure bliss. But now all I can think of now is, ‘kuambia Siri Kali iingilie Kati.’ So here we are trying to feign some semblance of sanity and watch the vroom vroom from our screens like the desperate housewives we are albeit without Baileys. We can’t wait for Monday to usher them back as Bahati’s ‘mtaachana tu’ and Randy Travis ‘I told you so’ play back to back. And especially the part that says, ‘I told you that you would come crawling back and asking me to take you…’ Meanwhile business is booming in Vasha and as the dust rises with each roar kids are making memories, while others are being made. 40 weeks and it will be a baby vrooom sorry boom. Vasha wewe 🤣🤣 #StillTheChronicler.
I often keep checking the down lock (konji) on my door. This is because once upon a time at ‘quarantine’ a thief came for a courtesy call. Most times I only locked the upper lock. Truth be told I used to feel like a dynasty since I was living opposite Wajackoyah (OCS.) On this particular night my daughter locked the door and wound locking the down lock. As usual we went to slumberland and my kids wished me goodnight saying, ‘dream of bedbugs’ 🤣. Now in the wee hours of the morning as I was doing my assignment of dreaming well not of bedbugs but of mansions with crystal chandeliers on a hill. You know sometimes pia unawezadrift from assignments juu imagine unang’ang’ana kupata degree halafu kufumba na kufumbua unajipata umeSakajwa. So as I was drifting from my assignment at hand I heard some noise at a distance. I started thinking that since I was living on the ground floor and rodents were common visitors that maybe one had paid homage. Kidogo kidogo I started drifting out of my sleepy stupor and realised that someone was trying to force entry into my kahouse. I woke up small small and walked into the living room eyes groggy and all, hitting chairs and tables and as I put on the light, let me tell you Maina, I saw the hand that was straining to open my door. My heart skipped a beat and my tongue clang to the roof of my mouth. That is why I was not able to put my hands on my head and scream at the top of my lungs like my mama used to do when cows were being stolen in the village and whisked off Kamarurui to cross Thagana river into Mathīra ma gīthomo. I only heard fast fading footsteps and the bang of the gate as the dude ran and jumped the gate. Believe you me God hears prayers because I prayed that if the dude ever tried to come and visit me again, that He’d confuse him. Well fast forward, the prayer was answered faster than I’d have expected. A few days later the guy went to visit the chief of police himseofu. He was taken to Karatina subcounty hospital on a stretcher, a bullet scar on the thigh should now be a frequent reminder of how using ‘kale kakitu’ can put you in an awful situation. How else can you explain going to steal in a soldier’s house. Up in the slopes we had a saying for that, lemmi see what did we use to call it ‘gūikia ihiga borithi.’ Have a stone free day.
This is a story about a mountain father. The one who’d wake you up in the wee hours of the morning on coffee picking days. The one who also ensured that he paid school fees so you wouldn’t be sent home for non payment. And on the slight chance that you were sent home he’d not let you get to the kitchen in search of Gatubia, he was like, ‘cokai mūmwīre ninjūkite.’ Then when you thought you’d be able to pick some oranges on your way back he’d already picked his mūkwanjū and hat and was right behind you so you’d have to jump out of the tree and run of stick. You don’t want him getting to school before you. The consequences would be dire. This same guy bought several cows to ensure that we had access to the best nutrients from the white liquid now costing an arm and a leg. He had plenty of beehives that ensured our immunity was always top notch. He’s the same one who’d come carrying a kg of meat from Kīngūkus butchery when he visited Kīangararū for the coffee payouts. Did I mention the numerous chickens and how we lay in wait for them to lay eggs. No sooner had the hen laid the egg than the egg was in the boiling githeri. On Christmas he went out of his way to secure a ram for slaughter. We’d also get to steal his bicycle and attempt to learn how to cycle when he was away. Too bad we mostly ended up damaging it than learning. I vividly recall when he was doing some painting as he sang, ‘cha kutumaini sina Ila damu take Yesu.’ You know that thing about men not being able to multitask? He’d get so engrossed in his painting and then after like five minutes he’d remember he was singing and you’d hear, ‘sina wema wa kutosha dhambi zangu kuziosha.’ I can clearly say that he was the epitome of provision, a strict disciplinarian and a man of good judgement. I guess all I can say is happy posthumous Father’s Day. I wouldn’t trade you for another father in this life of after. #StillTheChronicler.
Magic, magic, magic, everything is magical. From magical Kenya to magical skies. My son came home excited about a magician who had plenty a tricks up his sleeve. It’s true that magicians subject our minds to psychological illusions which make us believe what we see. Growing up on the slopes of the mountain ensured these tricksters were in plenty. Someone’s gotta eke a living somehow. Like now when fuel prices and food prices have skyrocketed it’s only normal to look for multiple income streams to sustain the cost of living. So once in a while they’d announce during school’s assemblies about some magician. This would convert us into a real hustlers village trying to gather some coins here and there to be able to watch a magical moment. This hustle included but was not limited to ‘kūngania mbūni’ for a meagre wage of 50 cents, keeping some of mama’s change without her permission or attacking the mattress to heist upon Asusena’s mshwari account. And mark you the price was between 1 bob and 5 bob. Then on the material day the magician would step on the podium, arms akimbo and boldly declare, ‘macho fungika na akili fungika.’ I don’t know if that declaration lendered us blind, but the next thing we saw was that a girl had laid an egg or a boy was stuck to a chair 🤣🤣. I just hope that you dear reader ain’t one of the layers otherwise you might just land a deal with Kentucky Fried Chicken. 🤣🤣 Good luck with that anyway, for now lemmi stare at these magical skies. #StillTheChronicler.
There’s a reason why they said Kiswahili kitukuzwe. Well a long time ago, when they were teaching us Swahili in class eight we were divided into discussion group. The aim of these groups was to write Inshas and then mark for each other. That way the teacher wouldn’t have too much on his plate. In corporate they call it delegation. Yeah, noone wants to have too much on their plates unless it’s a scrumptious meal. So then, we’d just recently learned tanakali za sauti, you know the likes of kulala fo fo fo or tulia tulii tulii. After the topic which the teacher explained in leaps and bounds, the somo la ziada was to write insha using as many tanakali za sauti as possible. Who better than primary school kids to embark on such an assignment. We were as busy as bees trying to gather as much pollen juice for the honey (Insha.) So the next Swahili lesson meant that we sit in our groups and read each Insha, review, correct it and assign marks. So we started reading the Insha until we arrived at the tanakali za sauti stage and the first bus arrived stating; ‘tiririka tiririri na tuchukue majiwe tuwapige hawa wanyama.’ Everyone in the group burst out in laughter, well everyone except the writer, she walked out like a dog that’s been rained on. Now in my tarmacking era, I got invited to attend an interview in a microfinance Bank. I prepared myself both mentally and appearancewise and waited anxiously in that interview lobby fidgeting with the rest of the interviewees. My turn came and I was whisked into the interview room where I introduced myself before the panel. Then the first question came and I was supposed to talk to the panel in Swahili illustrating to them the company’s products; you know like potential customers. Hafi bila Fifi Swahili is hard as it is, that’s why you hear my mountain people say, ‘anga marienda, makakutana na makafendana.’ I was like a deer caught in the headlights, I turned beetroot red and upto now I still can’t remember what I actually said. Turns out this time round I’m the one who walked outta the door with the tail between my legs feeling like a drenched dog. As you can guess, I never got the job. That’s why I’m here to say, ‘Kiswahili Kitukuzwe. This is where you say, Igweeee….. #StillTheChronicler.
This post is inspired by donkeys, donkeys of Warubaga, donkeys of Lamu but most definitely the donkeys of Ngurubani. Yeah, the very donkeys that wake us up in the wee hours of the morning with a bray to remind us it’s time to arise and shine and start a hard works day. You see being a donkey these sides is not easy. You have to thrive in the intense heat while transporting drums of the all too fertilizer and pesticides laden canal river while enduring some thorough whackings from your owner. Isitoshe you feed at night instead of sleeping like our Muslims brothers during the month of Ramadhan because there’s no time to feed during the day. Sometimes I wish that these creatures would have the ability to speak like that Baram’s donkey in the good ol’ book. They’d then give their owners a piece of their minds, that is if they have any. On another note, donkeys are the reason why I didn’t pursue Agriculture in my O levels. Well that and wanting to copy my elder sister. You see she had these prospectuses from the London school of music, I’d gaze at those photos of the Orchestra violins on their shoulders and say wow, this is the life. I’d picture myself in that orchestra looking finer than all the fiddles combined. So back to donkey business and my not taking agriculture. So we were studying this topic about donkeys and the teacher asked, why should you put a harness on a donkey. I don’t know how the lying serpent visited me because I found myself saying, ‘ to prevent them from becoming obstinate.’ 🤣 The teacher gave me the constipated look which seemed to say you are the one who is obstinate here. I felt my cheeks redden and oh the shame as the whole class laughed hysterically at me. A story was told by our catechism teacher about a father and a son who were going to the market when they chanced upon two obstinate donkeys who refused to give them way. The son asked the father, ‘ nīkīī bunda ici ing’athītie ta mami.’ Why are these donkeys stubborn as mum? 🤣 Dude was lost for words. So maybe you are wondering about the moral of this post. I guess what I’m trying to say is, never follow someone else’s path What if you follow Wahome Waihūra’s path and come across a leopard that you don’t have the strength to kill, or you follow Samson’s path and you can’t kill the lion. I ended up not doing so well in music and well I think I’d have done well enough in Agriculture. Well minus the obstinate bit. My orchestra dream went down the drain when the music teacher loudly acclaimed, ‘oh my, the donkey has sang again!’
I recently came across this photo and remembered how back in the days we’d give the honey badgers a run for their money or should I say honey? The three musketeers or maybe I’d call them the three human badgers suddenly had an urge for the local brew and as they said in that sprite ad, ‘obey your thirst.’ They sat down to strategise and come up with the recipé. Water was a non issue, plenty from the Thagana river, Muratina, I don’t know where it came from. The sugarcanes, well those were in plenty at Gacika stream😉 when you know, you know. As for the honey, a huge Mūkūrwe tree (Albizia Gummiferra) with a hole in the heart, sorry a hole in the trunk stood magestically on our farm its roots deep and it’s leaves proudly spread out like it was saying, ‘ look here, I own the entire universe.’ One problem though was that Mhenga’s hunting gear was under lock and key. This meant that the three musketeers had to invent a smoker. This was improvised from dry twigs tied together into a bunch and lit on one end. The smoke emanating from it would smoke the bees outta the hive or trunk in this case and the honey would be emptied into a bucket. Now, the moon was illuminating the farm and Mhenga and Mhenguliwa were enjoying their evening cup of gatubia as Mhenguliwa roasted maize for her prince charming. The evening news was transisting on the red black and white greatwall TV, while the moon spread some of its light into the living room through the small window and an aura of countryside serenity spread across the land. The nightingale could be heard in a distance, saying ‘kwī heho kwi mbarara. Kufumba na kufumbua the moonlight was replaced by an orange hue. Mhenga wondered whether there was a lunar eclipse/ blood moon that he wasn’t aware of. He stood to partake of the rare occurrence but no sooner had he opened the door than he saw that his Mūkūrwe tree was on fire. He being the commander in chief issued instructions to Mhenguliwa and they ran towards the tree with water cans and managed to quench the angry flames. The three musketeers abandoned ship and hid in the coffee bushes. And just like that I never got to taste mūratina. Mhenga too didn’t enjoy his roasted maize. By the time they were back, It had turned into ash. The Mūkūrwe tree still managed to stand tall despite its present predicament. The bees never came back though. They felt squashed😂 just like our dreams of owning KWAL. #StillTheChronicler.
A tale from fort hall aka metumi ndigi magūrū or simply the place we call Mūrang’a county. Well fort hall is known for many things like the famous mūkūrwe wa Nyagathanga where the Gīkūyū and Mūmbi tale took place in high definition. It’s also known for gīthaarī and cai wa fourteen among others. Then again there are the akorino tales; akorinos are independent Christians sects that broke away from the Nyaruta/ missionaries ideologies. I don’t know how Forthall became a home to so many, but I know someone who says that he would have been one had it not been for the turbans running out of supply. 🤣 So you know how the akorino sect believes in being dreamt for/ kūroterwo. You see in everything and especially in marriage they must seek that dream/ vision. Once upon a time, an old geezer lusted after a newly ripened tomato that had bloomed in the neighborhood. He decided to confide in a friend and together they plotted how they would get the young lass to join his everincreasing fleet of wives. The script was written and choreographed by the village drama king and together they started the entourage to the girls homestead. As it’s habitual for most homesteads a croton megalocarpus tree aka mūruthu proudly spreads its leaves at the centre of the compound providing a shade so divine. The mission statement for their arrival was announced and soon the whole family plus the visitors gathered under the croton tree. They narrated how the Good Guy up there had spoken categorically and instructed that the young girl marry the old geezer. The sun had set and spring darkness was consuming the village then suddenly a light flashed from the sky above the tree and everyone bowed in silence. As Kenny said, you could have heard a pin drop. A loud voice like that of many waters was heard. Everyone listened as the ‘Lord’ commanded the girl’s father to allow her to get married. The old geezer was like, ‘nīguo woiga baba?’ Is that what you have spelt out dear father?’ and the ‘good lord’ replied, īī. They all started speaking in tongues and singing, ‘wee niwe Ngai ūrīa turenda.’ Then kufumba na kufumbua, the branch where Bruce Almighty sat broke off and he fell down in a thud. I guess gravity did not recognise him. Everyone was mguu niponye, Bruce Almighty, couldn’t run since he landed down ass first dislocating his hip. Now he walks with a limp like a hyena. He learnt his lesson though. For now lemmi see which branch won’t give in. I have a plan.
Hope y’all are enjoying Madaraka Day, the day we got to have internal self rule. The Nyakerū had started to feel the ultimate heat of a determined people and were about to fully surrender. What I remember most about Madaraka Day was access to the radio the whole day. Back then there wasn’t electricity and the radios were powered by what I came to know later as alkaline batteries in my form 2 physics class. Imagine the shock when I heard that alkaline batteries are not recharged yet we used to place them on hot ash and on placing them in the radio it would work. As a result of scarcity of kakitu to buy batteries the radio listening was mostly done in the mornings and at night. What was exciting about it was that since there was no school we wouldn’t hear Habel Kifoto’s, ‘uvivu ni adui mkubwa Kwa ujenzi wa taifa, kwani ndicho kiini hasa kisababishacho njaa.’ At least as Ken Walibora wrote that siku njema hupatikana asubuhi, it was a sure good day for us. We’d listen to the radio as Baba Moi enjoyed his gwarides at Nyayo National stadium. Even though there was no visual element, the commentators were so good at it. ‘Mtukufu Rais kinachopita mbele yako ni kikosi cha jeshi la wanamaji…’ Then Baba Moi would take the podium and ramble on and on eventually concluding with, ‘na hayo yote ni maendeleo.’ By then it’d already be 1:00 which meant newstime. Then idhaa ya taifa would play, ‘ooh KANU yajenga nchi’ otherwise known as gacengeci, followed by the three beeps symbolising the hour. Ting, ting, tiiiiiing. That last one though was eardrums splitting. The news anchor would be like, ‘na hii ni taarifa ya habari ikiletwa kwako na …..News would be just a repeat of what transpired in the stadium. Afterwards the real patriotic songs such as: ‘Wataka kunyamba Kenya we utuharibie hewa Harufu yako twaijua hata ukipanda ndege.Ewe Kenya nchi yangu, ewe Kenya baba yangu Ewe Kenya mama yangu oh, sitakuwacha milele.’
For your info radios were running on MW,SW and AM frequencies resulting in too much static but we still appreciated. Also no Chapattis, these were purely a Christmas deli. #StillTheChronicler.
There were lies that were considered right way back in the days e.g we used to be told that if you ate people’s things/ steal one of your ass cheeks would become bigger than the other. This was meant to discourage people from turning into tūrīa nīme. You can imagine the torture we’d go through trying to catch a glimpse of our rear view. All in all I guess it was true because sometimes I check myself in the mirror and see some hint. How else would I be punished after feasting on my uncle’s guavas every Sunday after Sunday school. Imagine switching from Saint to thief in an instant. I would enter surreptitiously through a hole in the fence and stealthily advance towards the guava trees on tippy toes. Even though the guava tree was slippery I was more agile than a leopard. I’d stay on that tree for more than an hour and only climb down when my tummy was full to the brim. And here I’ve been wondering why Becky, my uncle’s dog used to stalk me. I guess he recognised the guava thief. I also used to wonder why my father hadn’t planted guavas like my uncle and left us to salivate like Pavlov’s dogs. Ooh my, dogs again. That’s why when the call of nature came, you know the big one, I’d go and dig a whole in the farm and defacate in hope that a guava tree would grow in our farm. Funny enough it did grow. And that’s why I’m enjoying this juicy goodness. I no longer eat them from atop. #StillTheChronicler.