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.
Some people wonder what the letter K is doing in knife and I say to them, ‘ no more than H is doing in New Delhi. There are things that be where they ought not to be, but not so for Lesos. Lesos/ kangas trace their way back to Portuguese traders who sold the fabrics to Africans along the East African coastline. Lesos find their way into so many things and places from childbirth, to playing napkin, to carrying wares e.g you go to visit a friend’s farm and since you got nowhere to put them, you wrap them in a leso. Besides that a leso often comes in handy in the nick of time, It’s been said of pregnant women going to the river and delivering their babies and coming back wrapping their bundles of joy in a leso. One reason not to wonder what your leso is doing in your handbag. Besides carrying/ wrapping things lesos are great message transporters. You know like when you fight with that son of Jeroboam and sing like a broken record, ‘ona ndī mūkūrū nīngūhika kungi,’ you can just wrap yourself in one kanga saying, ‘Nalia na mwewe, kumbe hasidi ni wewe,’ otherwise you can take him on a road drive since lorries too are great messengers, ‘ ukinidelete mwenzako atanidownload.’ There you go message delivered. Take a message to Leso from Lorry but don’t tell her where I am; Message yenyewe, ‘ compe ni compe roho Safi.’ What I don’t know though is what I’m doing behind this dwarf cypress. Could it be that I’m passing a message too. 🤔 #StillTheChronicler.
Chicken is a rare delicacy on the slopes of the mountain. You may not believe it but this dish is mostly served when they are visitors. The locals thrive through chicken products. Truth be told, chicken rearing has never been easy. There are three main nightmares for the chicken farmer. And talking about nightmares, do you know that night nurse song used to sound to me like my nightmares? Which song did you mishear while growing up? I bet you have a whole playlist. So back to the chicken nightmares. Nightmare number one is waking up and finding your flock all wiped out by Newcastle disease (Kīhuruto.) Nightmare number two is when you find that when your night nurse was working her charm on you, Kamūcoroge aka Kanu, (and I don’t mean tikisa gitole cha GANU) was working her way through your flock one neck at a time. You may need to see a therapist for mental wellness and all after such an experience. Nightmare number three is when the tūrīa nine decide that since their hustle has not been going well then your flock belongs in their sacks. You see there is this chemical they use to spray on the chicken and they all collapse on the floor and then they heave then in sacks and sell them at the nearest Chicken deli. Growing up on the slopes of the mountain sometimes these eaters of the farmed would get overzealous and night after night they’d haunt several homesteads. Once upon a time the village youths decided to form a vigilante group. They’d gather together at night and walk their night away keeping the tūrīa nīme at bay and then in the wee hours of the night they’d hide and lie in wait for the tūrīa nīme.) What they didn’t know is that several snitches/ moles were also in their midst and when the thieves were about to reach their hideout, one would cough pretend or sneeze pretend and the thieves would be alerted of the lurking danger and voila, they’d be gone, kapish ‘oo kaihū na kwao.’ I guess I’m heading home now too, tuonane majaliwa. Keep composing Allan Walker. Your music is alive.
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.
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.
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.