Bartered

Old is gold but gold is better. There’s a reason why they go to mine it in Alaska. That diamond better lie stoicaly on a golden rock. Same reason why Kenny said, ‘ if you wanna find gold go looking in the mountains.’
There’s is gold which is a precious metal, then there’s aluminium which is well; a metal. It’s the metal that ensured that something hot was steaming on the table at the end of the day, be it one, two, three, twarīra thoguo, or something more scrumptious.
Some people trade in gold, but then there are also those merchants who go shouting around the villages. I’d like to call them merchants of for purposes of this chronicle. One is the sharpening, sharpening, sharpening guy. This guy goes from house to house looking for blunt knives to sharpen since we no longer have inooro. Then there’s the chomelea guy who goes looking for broken basins to repair.
Last but not least is the ultimate aluminium trader. This one be like, ‘thaburia ngūrū ya gūtwara maaī kwa ng’ombe, nī ngūgura.’ An old sufuria of taking water to the cow shed, I will buy. Back when these guys existed, we didn’t have SGR vandalism. These people could even do barter trade.
The first time I rubbed shoulders with barter trade, was when a merchant actually gave my mother those enamel coated metallic plates in exchange with beans. Need I say that most often than not we’d leave those plates lying on the glass after kūhūna paa mūcibi and thīrū our cow dearest would step on the plate without even blinking. The enamel would of course shy away and leave the iron ore kwenye mataa. Are you thinking of Stella wangu and Freshly Mwaburi? Other merchants would also exchange pots with beans. Obviously the farmer got the rawer part of the deal, but life was thriving on the mountains.
You know they sold a cow to take me to school and then later on they exchanged me with cattle. Dunia duara, well I guess I could say I’m bartered.
#StillTheChronicler.

Born Bold

Truth be told, sharing my special day with donkeys hasn’t been easy. Things are made even worse by the anniversary of ‘Stella Wangu’ and her Japanese boy. Pole Sana Mwaburi but if you exchanged notes with Harry Bellafonte you’d no that Matilda was much more worse. By now you know I’m gakware (last born) and by that I mean extremely Gakware since unlike Paul Overstreet in his song, ‘I come from a long line of love,’ I come from a long line of siblings. 🤣
When my mum was carrying me in her belly a friend of hers told her, ‘ ūgūciara nginya ūciare tūrimu.’ They had seen her carry so many until they got concerned for her. So when you see me ‘kiyarīng ūrimū,’ just know I’m fulfilling some prophecy.
I’m grateful to Mama for ensuring that I landed in this world safe and sound. Mum further told me that she went into labour all alone and pushed me out all alone. When I came out she thought I was stillborn since I didn’t cry. She held me in her hands and realised that the placenta was wrapped around my neck and was actually choking me. She didn’t panic but proceeded to unwrap me and voila, a cry was heard on the slopes of the mountain and the ‘mkunga’ who was in the next room came running.
Sometimes I look back and wonder why delay follows me like Luanda Magere’s shadow, then I remember the many times I’ve enjoyed divine protection. Yeah like in my previous chronicles adrenal http://thechroniclesofnyarkaheti.com/2022/01/31/adrenal/ and bloomy https://thechroniclesofnyarkaheti.com/2021/09/29/bloomy/ or when I was dropped by a nduthi immediately after boarding, wait a minute, do we board nduthis or do we climb them 🤔 That’s when I realise like Zach Williams that there was Jesus.
By God’s grace your Chronicler is here. Happy birthday to me.

StillTheChronicler.

Vitality


My granny told me that when she went to tumutumu mambere, they used to be told that, ‘mathiī kūnyua maaī na ciongo cia andū. They have gone to drink water with people’s heads. The head in this case was the bowl which came in an array of colours but red seemed to be the most dominant. For some reason this bowl got a very noble role in the school feeding program otherwise known as soup row. I don’t know why it was christened that way, or if that’s even the correct spelling. I guess it was because you had to queue in an endless line before you got your share of a few monocotyledons (maize) and dicotyledons (beans) in an endless river of soup and floating ‘thuthis’ weevils babies.Yeah that’s what comprised our lunch those days, yet the minutes before lunchtime always seemed to drag by. In the morning we had to carry a Jerry can of water for cooking purposes. That meant when it was your class’ turn to supply water for the soup row, It was either you carry tap water or river water. That doesn’t mean that some people didn’t take Kīria’s (swamp water) or that some boy child didn’t pee in the water. When you know you know 😉. So mama Esther may she continue RIP ensured that we were well taken care of. The soup was always ready when the bell rang but the queue was always too long. Some big boys could manage to ‘kuonoranio’ (empty) one bowl’s contents into the other and render someone else mealless. The tears that flowed when you reached the end of the line only to be told the food was over 😭😭 Sometimes though mama Esther would have mercy on you and give you some of the teacher’s food. That was soup row, thin and in plenty with a few oil drops shining here and there. Still we survived and still we chronicle albeit with chubby cheeks despite all that soup. I guess the thuthis (baby weevils) played a vital role. For now lemmi try to get some fishy angalau nikumbuke hizo proteins.

StillTheChronicler.’

Whispers

‘Si unihotspot.’ Working with this young generation makes me realise just how old school I am. Hotspotting is the latest lingo among the young generation. The other day someone talked about how when someone hotspots you they don’t want to see you smirk, smile or laugh. They immediately disconnect you if they suspect you are increasing your lifespan at their expense. You know they say laughter is medicine for the soul. This phenomenon took me back to those days in the village while growing up; you know the days when you could borrow fire, salt, sugar and even flour. You know the funny thing with Ugali is that you might realise too late that the flour will not be enough and you may end up eating porridge instead of Ugali.
Besides borrowing these basic items, sometimes on the rare occasion that you had to attend a function/family gathering or you had to go visiting folks in town/ the big city you’d need to borrow the cool kids their ngorofa dresses and/ or palm shoes. Now it was okay to borrow these things and feel like a Disney Princess up and until when you tried to play and the cool kid would whisper in your ear not that Nameless’ whisper of ‘macho yako yanameta kama stars’ but that whisper of, ‘usichafue/ usirarue nguo yangu.’ You’d walk like a dog that has been rained on, its tail between its hindlegs and watch as the others played from a distance. Worse still some cool kids instead of whispering would shout at the top of their voices and the whole community would know that you were clad in borrowed clothes.
If you thought that borrowing clothes is bad, borrowing a lift/ hitchhiking is even worse. You go to a function with a guy when you don’t have a dime in your wallet/ handbag and when the guy rises up to stretch you rise with him thinking that he’s going to leave you.
Earth is hard after all we are here on borrowed time.

StillTheChronicler.

Contend

The other day I forgot to buy my fourth grade a biro. I was so used to buying him pencils that I forgot he was now a big boy and he now has bigger responsibilities.
So he ended up borrowing from a friend, I felt so ashamed when he came home declaring that they are now writing with biros. How could I forget how we’d feel and yearn for the transition from the lower primary to the upper primary. Holding a Speedo/ Kilometric biro back in the days was like being selected to dance for the are DC during a fundraising. Remember when we’d perform a song/ dance and then you’d be chosen to go before the DC and, ‘ūmūhurīrie kīngūkū?’ Also said transition meant that we’d get to ditch the earthen floor classes for the cemented floor. Nani kama Sisi🤔 As if that is not enough, I forgot to give him a memo about what to do and what not do with biros e.g ‘never put a biro in the pocket, it will boil.’
Now I have a stain to contend with and the little homescience I learnt won’t work for me because I didn’t remove it while fresh as my homescience teacher passionately taught me.
Well I guess Merle Haggard in his song my favourite memory where he sings, ‘ I guess everything does change except what you choose to recall,’ couldn’t be truer.
I’m here wondering how I remember these chronicles yet forget to dish out good advice when need arises. Well as they say, ‘Ya Mungu ni mengi, ya kuku ni mayai, ya kanga ndio sijui 🤣.’
#StillTheChronicler.

Critiqued

I don’t know why people criticise someone who is proficient in a language. I’ve tried to analyse the criticism but I always fall short of the motivation. Excellence is a quality to be envied. I mean why do people watch Jack Chan and Bruce Lee. Isn’t it because they have mastered their martial arts skills? Why was it that we used to walk for miles to go to neighbors houses to watch renegade and Chuck Norris; Texas ranger. I believe that if these people’s acting was mediocre we’d have been better of stayed in our detached kitchens roasting corn and sweet potatoes as we partook of the juiciest gossip in our villages. Better still we’d go outside to watch the milky way shower in the sky blue Colorado skies as we cast some wishes upon a star. Yet we braved the tūthukī mūndūs, the biting cold and the sneers from the privileged neighbours kids just to catch a glimpse of these shows.
So why is it that if one perfects their language skills, they are deemed as proud and lofty? Why is it that they are accused of preferring the western ways as opposed to their native ways. What’s heart wrenching though is that the said accusers cannot even write a sentence in their native language properly. You’ll also hear people say, this is not a grammar class so stop correcting grammatical errors. We have forgotten that the good book says,’ as iron sharpens iron, so does man sharpen man.’
Please aspire to be the best always be it in writing, judo or swimming. And don’t become Kamati ya roho chafu. I remember once upon a time when Philip Ochieng was criticized for his column being complicated and his response was what people would only term as rude. I however find the response hilarious.
#StillTheChronicler.

Happy mother’s Day

Mamas, They are gems yet it’s funny how that name seems the last for toddlers to master. But that doesn’t discourage mamas from expediting their maternal duties. I can still recall how mama used to wake us up in the wee hours of the morning so we can prepare for school in hope for a brighter future. We’d wake up with groggy eyes to Habel Kifoto’s, ‘uvivu ni adui mkubwa kwa ujenzi wa taifa, kwani ndicho kiini hasa kisababishacho njaa. Then Mr Slow’s radio cassette would play, ‘Mami witū aaī rīrīa arī muoyo twarīaga tūkarara na mūthebeo.’
Mothers are icons, legends, heroes, words can’t even begin to describe them. From bringing a pregnancy to term, to braving the labour ward, to playing nurse when the kids are sick to playing advocate when Dad wants to read the sentence to being a shoulder to cry on. Mama is also the first teacher, first words, first steps mama is always there encouraging you and cheering you. I could go on and on and still do them no justice.
Then there are those days when they just have to teach you common sense. Kids be like, ‘mum, where should I put these utensils and mama all cool replies, ‘ on my nose 👃.
My Mother is a peasant farmer who worked her hands to the blood and the bone to ensure there was enough food in our plates. I remember one time she woke my sister up to go to school very early. She was in form four and would wake up as early as four in the morning to revise. The moon was shining bright in the Colorado skies, ‘ Kūrora andū’ and mama thought it had already dawned and left for the farm. As she was weeding, suddenly that darkness that hovers before dawn came. Mama could not see anything and she just had to sit in the farm until she heard the birds chirping, then she continued with her weeding.

Kumbe gari za dunia gari za dunia kumbe zinadundanga sana. Lakini mgongo ya mama kumbe ni ya Mortisela ya fute hakuna siku ata moja ilinidundisha. Na tena akipima kuanguka ni mie tena ndiye anapigania atwale mama ooh mama.(mama ni mama) Pastor Emmanuel Ushindi couldn’t have put it better.


Happy mother’s Day to all mothers for being so selfless.
#StillTheChronicler.

Phony

Went for a function the other day and after eating. Yeah Gakware must definitely talk about food. So then after feasting I got to stare. Yeah that very thing I was warned against in high school. You remember the one where they wrote in the school rules that you should not stand and stare. I almost felt exhilarated for breaking a rule, except I was not breaking the law since I was sitted. Somebody recite for me my rights. The again I ain’t getting arrested.
So then as I stared brazenly, I looked at the old and also at the not so old. I don’t know which category I belong to since I consider myself a fossil. While the old were chattering away and sharing hearty laughs, the younger generation was engrossed in their phones. I thought to myself, how lonelier can it get.
It’s true these gadgets have enslaved us. Like that poem, ‘ who will eat the vulture, I can’t help but wonder, who will save this phony generation?

Meanwhile lemmi enjoy living somewhere in the middle of the world. Maybe I’ll know my age group. 🤷

Variety.

If my small kahouse was to be the ministry of education and each room was to be a school with motto and all; the living room would be the kind of school that excels mostly in games and not the tough kind of games. Here we are talking about games like chess and monopoly. The motto would be something like Kenny Rogers gambler. You got to know when to hold em and what to hold em. Here you don’t work hard you work smart. The are the ones who will sneak mwakenyas during exams. They don’t want to tire their brains with things like mole concept and the endocrine system. These ones will graduate to become land brokers who will sell you those mburotis maguta maguta.
In the kitchen the motto would be something like this, ‘ mūndū nī mūndū nī kūhūūna.’ or, ‘no matter what you are going through, eat first.’ Here you’ll find the ones who have given up trying to understand the teacher. These are the ones who give the bell ringer the evil eye if he allows the lesson to pass even by a second. They be counting the minutes to lunch break.
In the bedroom you’d find such mottos as, ‘irio cia tombo nī toro.’ Here you’ll find the kids that don’t struggle so much to pass exams.These kids will look at you with an eyeroll and a sneer as you try too hard to cram the Bernoulli principle or the Boyles law. These ones are the Harvard materials except they were born in the wrong corner of the globe.’
Finally in the bathroom is where you’ll find the celebrities. These are the ones who want to walk the Hollywood walk of fame and are not shy to showcase their vocal prowess as they hold an imaginary mic and belt out the newest musicals. The motto here would be, ‘keep dreaming, all dreams are valid.’This is where you’ll find the cool kids and their theatrical antics.

I’m still trying to figure out where to place writers.Wacha nione kama hii boat inawezakuwa na hizo shule pia.
Which one is your school?

StillTheChronicler.

Lurking.

As kids growing up on the slopes, discipline was taken seriously. Disciplining was not just bestowed on the parents but on the society as well. Neighbours, uncles, aunties dispensed this task without complaining. It’s what you’d refer to as, ‘kujitolea kwa hamu na hamumu’ or ‘kwa hamu na ngamu.’ Removing yourself completely.’
These phrases were common on the slopes; ‘ngūkuonia nganga mbute,’ ‘I’ll show you a feathers plucked guinea fowl.’ Also very common was ‘ngūkuonia kanyoni wa Ng’ethe’ ‘I’ll show you the bird of Ng’ethe.’ At the coast they’d perfect it in slow motion as they said, ‘utakiona cha mtema kuni,’ ‘you’ll see what the firewood cutter saw.’
Over the years people have wondered what this bird of Ng’ethe’ or this plucked Guinea fowl looks like. Or better still what the firewood cutter saw.
I’ll tell you what to see the bird of Ng’ethe’ means:
Being shown the bird of Ng’ethe is to be impregnated by a son of Jeroboam and then left to cater for the baby by yourself.
Being shown the bird of Ng’ethe is to be asked by your son/ daughter who their father is and having to lie that he was knocked by a moving lorry.
Yes being shown the bird of Ng’ethe is to wake up and find that same child has been selected to join a day school in Homabay County while you live in Kwale county.
Being shown a plucked guinea fowl is when you toil yourself to the blood and the bone to educate the said child all the way to university and after that there are no jobs in sight, only promises.
Seeing what the firewood cutter saw is when you take a ngumbaco loan/Shylock to start a small business for the graduate and when it’s just about to break even, the bulldozers come calling. Ooh this is a road reserve.
Seeing the bird of Ng’ethe is when the Ngumbaco owners/Shylocks comes calling since you haven’t honoured your promises to pay up.
So many other examples of the bird of Ng’ethe. So stop looking further for the bird of Ng’ethe, she’s always lurking somewhere. You’ve already experienced her in one way or another.

StillTheChronicler.