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Chronicles of my Village, Gitura 2

even-as-the-operation-against-illicit-brews-went-on-this-drunkard-was-too-intoxicated-to-notice-what-was-happening333

Due to public demand, let’s continue from where we left. About the great city of Gitura. Well, it’s a village, but there is a Pastor who came to preach in a crusade at Gitura Primary School and he told God to bless the ‘City of Gitura’ … I was proud of my city my village that day , and as you know, what God has blessed no one can put asunder.

Speaking of Pastor, I told you there is a time Gitura was as bad as Kosovo. The few people who were saved… no, let me rephrase that. The few church-going people intervened and held a Mega Gitura crusade in December 1999, and almost every other December and an evening Revival every Friday. Gitura changed, completely. Salvation came to the village. and many people would come forward to accept the Good Lord as their personal saviour. Sample this:

“Sema Mungu Baba”
“Mungu Baba”
“Mimi ni mwenye dhambi”
“Vile Pastor amesema Baba…”
Hapana, repeat after me.”
“Eh?”

It was fun, glorious fun.

Before that crusade in 1999, we used to go to night mkeshas only on December 24th to wait for Jesus to be born and on 31st to vuka mwaka. And these days were the worst days of the year. The church would be like a club. People would spend the day looking for miraa and soda to chana in the church that evening. Those who couldn’t afford sodas would look for plastic bottles and carry tea with a whole muthoto of sugar in it.

A majority of the men would be drunk. Some naughty girls(the ones your mother warned you about) would be done in the bushes surrounding the church. The main soloist in the church was the Gitura village soloist in all ways. He would come straight from leading “Oothi“…these are very vulgar circumcision songs… to lead the church in worship and praise. They would remix Oothi songs in church.

Even the church leaders, Mutura and Mutia would come to church drunk that night. Mutura would lead us in singing one song always, without fail:

“Maso maso ya Bwana ni makaali mno”
(Maso maso ya Bwana ni makali mno) That’s the whole church responding. He would then rap resaons why the eyes of the Lord are sharp.

These used to be fun times. And perplexing. I don’t know what we used to think the Church was back then.

The Dedicated Drinkers of Gitura

The Kayole of Gitura is called Kinyago. I think Kinyago means shit in Swahili (don’t kill me, Kinyagoans)… and that’s the capital of drinking in the city of Gitura. People start drinking at 6:00 in the morning. And since it’s chang’aa, you shouldn’t see what it does to people. The only positive side is the entertainment it provides.

drunk Gitura

Take for instance Ntoaboro. Ntoaboro used to work at the Post Office. During the day he would be a very dignified man. Meet him after 5 and you would run. He had this signature track, and the small children would follow him singing after him:

“Piiipi, Nyukwe! Mai!” If you don’t know what that means, listen to hardcore hip-hop. One day he passed by our home and insulted my grandfather. Us, being warriors, came out with rungus and pangas. He never sang near our home again, ever. Hatunaga time ya kuonyesha kitambi sauna with drunkards.
Same as the village butcher, Karume. Karume used to be drunk every day, around the clock. Bogs me how he managed that.

Oh, and my uncle Dibidi (David for you). Dibidi was the richest young man at his age. He had a TV when there were no TVs and a bed with drawers back then. Being a genius, he had made a satellite thingy, so we used to enjoy many “Nairobi” stations when only KBC was the father and mother. And then he started drinking, and everything went downhill. Remember Kibuku? The infamous alcohol that was nicknamed Songa na Mwena. He would drink that and chase us all from home. We would hear him sInging Bob Marley songs from a distance and we would all run into the shamba. One day they had a bow and arrow battle with my father.

Alibisa

But despite all these bad Kinyago things, there was a veve Base, kwa Îrû (that’s the short form of Wilson 🙂 ) This place would be to be lit. It was the headquarters of Kirianki and Bandia. If you want to enjoy life, chana at Îrû’s. With Alibisa.

If Kirianki was Churchill and Bandia was MC Jesse, Alibisa was MCA Tricky. Legend has it that Alibisa went to a Revival at Gitura EAPC one evening, and went to toa ushuhuda:

Bwana aspiwe. Bwana aspiwe tena. Mariitwa yakwa i Alibisa. Na mbitawa Alibisa ûû kweri? Mbitawa Alibisa Gitari, kwetû i Luluma lakini turumaira kalaa au kwa Îrû.

For those who don’t know Spanish, that’s “Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord again. My name is Alibisa.. and what’s my other name? Oh, my name is Alibisa Gitari, I come from Luluma but you will find me chewing my miraa at Wilson’s most of the time “

Alibisa dropped out of school at Class 5, and he broke the heart of one Mwenda o Kiumbe. Mwenda always used to be second last in class, with Alibisa the last.
This one end term, Mwenda came home and when he was asked his position in class he simply said:

“Alibisa dropped out of school.” You know what that means.

Ntombori

But the grandfather of comedy has to be Ntombori the father of Itonga and Agnes Kamami. Ntombori has a shrill voice, he speaks like a woman. He is also the slimmest person I know. Tall and thin. He wear a kagodfather hat. More like George Washington.

Ntombori Lincoln of Gitura

Ntombori Lincoln of Gitura 🙂

Always confused, you should see him collect cess in Maua town, that’s his job. You know, haggling with the market women like a peer, and bouncing off like a bestee. He once met Alex and called him his uncle, Kalare. When Alex said he wasn’t Kalare and that Kalare was much older, Ntombori said, “Haha. I was just joking, how is your wife and children, Mutura?” Mutura is Alex’ dad, and Ntombori was serious. .

The winner has to be when Teacher Mbogori gave Itonga a beating in school. Ntombori came, blazing angry. He caught Mr. Mbogori mashati and shouted in that shrill voice of his:

“Unapiga Itonga, unapiga Itonga choo wewe…” If we ever meet, ask me to tell you how he said this.

Remember Ntombori is thin…well, he is as light, and Mr. Mbogori literally threw him several metres away. Ntombori rose and ran away, threatening to go tell the Police.

I should tell you about Somibwi, the woman who feared all forms of human civilisation, from torches to cars to aeroplanes up in the sky… but I won’t. You may break your ribs and I won’t take responsibility for that.

Chronicles of my Village, Gitura

village Mamaa

This is NOT Mamaa

The other day I was told of a women group on Facebook rivalling Kilimani Mums… it’s called Vuteni Stool. When a woman says, “vuta stool nikuambie”, know it’s going to be a hot story.

I’m not a woman, not even remotely with this smug face of mine, but vuta stool I tell you about my village. It’s one of the best, most comic places you will ever find.

Life in my village is a comedy movie.

To the uninitiated, I’m a son of Gitura, some 3km East of Maua town CBD (yes, Maua has a CBD). If Maua was a bigger town, Gitura would be its leafy suburb.
Some years back, Gitura was a Kosovo. You wouldn’t have dared walk around if you were a visitor, or a skimpily dressed girl. It was a dangerous place. And rightly so, people were not going to school (you can blame a booming miraa business if you want but I won’t). So, people lived around. Our group was the first to come to Nairobi in search for higher education. When I came to Nairobi, I didn’t know anyone… that’s why Nairobi played me as roughly as it did. (Haithuru, I made it better for the next generation).

But then Gitura went through a change, people became more focused, parents started valuing education, the two churches became United and stronger…and things started getting up. We had piped water, a secondary school of our own, electricity, etc (only the main road remains a stony shamba that only Landrovers can navigate. F— the politicians).

Now you have the background, lean closer. Like every village, Gitura has intrigues.

Some village mushene

Kambura beats her husband, almost every week. And she sleeps with her daughters’ boyfriends. And she is the man of the house, literally. She handles the family miraa farms, she takes the husband’s salary, she is the one the kids fear… that woman even drinks Guiness while her hubby drinks Fanta and sugarcane. Where the feminists at?

Mamaa: They steal my wives

Let’s talk about Mamaa. I love that man… that’s right, Mamaa is a man. His life is a comedy strip. That man is soo good, soo friendly, soo funny. Some time back, Mfa joked to him he would bring him to me in Nairobi. Mamaa was ecstatic. The only other time he had hoped he would reach Nairobi is when he came to a pass-out at Kenya Prisons College in Ruiru. Mamaa was mad, they had told him Ruiru is in Nairobi..And how he was so close, so far.  So this time he went and packed a bag, bade his family goodbye and with some swag, went to Mfa’s. But dude was asleep. He wasn’t going to Nairobi. Mamaa was too pissed and embarrassed to go back home, he went and slept at some place for a week.

miraa taxii

He looks like Mamaa. Expert “Miraan” with perfect taxiis

Mamaa is a master miraa chewer. I have always seen him with a full cheek. He makes a taxii so hard David would have borrowed it to kill Goliath. So it came as a surprise when one week, Mamaa wasn’t seen doing his miraa. When asked me said he had a new wife and since people take his wives as he’s chewing his miraa in the market, he was protecting his new wife. And he was serious, people would snatch his wives. This time he stayed at home with a bow and arrows, waiting for any man to go near his wife! Mamaa is a legend.

village Mamaa

This is NOT Mamaa

Mamaa had a neighbour called Miriti (God rest his soul). If Mamaa is Churchill, Miriti was Mc Jessy. He even talked like him. Guy used to drink…all the time. He would drink and crawl home. One day, he quarrelled with his wife and took a rope to hang himself. With the rope around his neck, he went up a tree, and started doing a last dance. Unluckily, the branch he was stepping on snapped! As he went down he shouted “Uuuuwiiii! Mukundo mbita murii ntiukari serious!” Loosely translated to “Cut the rope, asshole! I wasn’t serious (about killing myself)! They cut the rope and gave him a serious beating. Unfortunately, Miriti committed suicide years later.

Village Clowns: Kirianki and Bandia.

Another ludicrous pair is Kirianki and Obadia (Bandia) They have been beat friends since we were kids in school. And I don’t know where they got their stories from, but during break time, we would sit around them to listen to their stories. Complete with songs like, “Kasabubu saided, aah saided, Kasabubu uumira aah uumira.” They would have won any high school oral narrative. And when the teachers noticed this, they made them start a school band that used to go all the way to District Drama Festivals. District is a big deal to Gitura Primary School.

graderdance5

People would be sitting in a chromed kiosk and Kirianki breaks the blissful silence that comes when miraa starts to shika and says “Bandia Bandia, kuna network home?” Well, Safaricom is quite strong those sides… what he meant was, “Is there food at home?” And Kirianki would be very creative. Picture this, he and another guy called Muriki would be eating mangoes, well, Muriki would be in a tree with mangoes on his lap and because Kirianki was a bit big and would not go up the tree, he would be gawking like the fox who said the fruits weren’t ripe… And then ran away suddenly, screaming… Muriki fell off the tree in fright, and fled, leaving the mangoes, only for our Man Kirianki to come back and take all the mangoes!
Kirianki, his brother and the cow.

And there was this time Kirianki bought a cow, which he would leave hanging out in his brother’s maize garden, enjoying itself. His brother confronted him and Kirianki told him, “if that cow as much as smells your maize again, sell it and drink the money.” The following day, the cow was having a good time in the maize garden again…and his brother, another cracker nut, took it to the market, sold it, drank beers instead of chang’aa that day and even bought Kirianki a beer. As Kirianki took the Tusker, he wondered how his brother had suddenly become so rich and philanthropic. So he asked him:

“Murume, why are you so good today? You have never bought me even the small soda ever.”
“All thanks to you, brother. Your cow ate my maize.”

Kirianki fainted.

Amerucan in America

Denver, US of America

On a certain night last month, I was playing hide and seek with Calla at JKIA to start the longest flight of my flying life. About 26 hours’ journey (of course with the 2 layovers). Destination: the United States of America, specifically Denver, Colorado.

This was the result of a 2 month torturous preparation, getting the US Visa in the confusing times of the Kenya e-Passport.

If you have ever applied for a Visa to some of these countries, you know it’s a tortuous exercise. I have done it before and gotten denied, by the UK back in 2016 for not showing proof I would come back. As if we poor minions of the world hate our countries so much we want to run away and never come back. It’s true, I hate our political baboons, our hunger, our tribalism, our lack of equality…even our poor Airtel internet, the only affordable internet we have. But there are things and people you can’t run from. Like our athletes, literally. Seriously, our old Kabete matatus, our miraa which is now illegal in most places we would want to run to, our ugali (imagine not eating ugali for two weeks)… even tweeting away from home like Miguna Miguna doesn’t feel right.

UK visa denied

When the UK denied my visa

Anyway, as soon as I knew I would be going, I started the process of filling the form. I collected pictures of Calla, her mother, my mother, my father and my entire clan – you need to show those people you are a njuri ncheke elder and if you disappear they will put a curse on you. Every asset documentation I have, including the wheelbarrow receipt also went into the envelope, along with the proof that I can and have made a small human being who’s fully dependent on me. I got letters (in plural) from my employer, I made flight and hotel reservations and printed all those. This time they had no excuse.

So, I was surprised when I went to the Visa interview, which took a painstaking 30 full days to happen, and they didn’t ask me for any document.

Seriously, all my preparation and reading…which all said I have all the documents and for every question I would get asked, produce a supporting document, were dashed when the Immigration officer told me the documents would not be necessary. I got this sinking feeling that that meant I was wasting my time – just go home – because just on the queue, I had seen a couple of people turned away.

2 minutes later, I was told, “Your Visa has been approved. Go and pay at that counter…”

Look at God.

United States of America Visa

US Visa

It’s a long way to America

When I growing up in Gitura village, the farthest one would think of was hapo mbele mbele ya Nairobi. I came to Nairobi and went further, but America should be the new simile for far. America is far.

I took British Airways, which passed me on style ya matatu to American Air stage ya London Heathrow. 8 hours to London, 10 hours to Dallas and 3 hours to Denver. That’s a whooping 21 hours! It’s like taking 3 trips to Meru in Kensilver. And I only sleep in bed, so, I spent all those hours macho.

landing into Dallas

Landing into Dallas

Dallas was the point of entry, so, customs questions that would have been asked at the Nairobi Embassy were asked here.

Eti, Why are you here? I’m here for some business meetings.

Oh, eti research company? Do you have some samples of the research you do? No, I am not a researcher myself, I market.

Oh, eti how do you market? It’s a lot of things, hautashika saa hii.

When are you going back? Sikai saana – just a week and I’ll be off to the third world.

Then my passport got stamped. Have you noticed the e-passport is not being stamped a lot? I would have loved a stamp for every airport I visited, even if it was a connection. Now, they don’t. 🙁

But I got that one, and with it, a license to roam the United States of America.

Denver.

My destination was Denver, Colorado. Denver is a quiet city, you don’t see a lot people in the streets – not like our Tom Mboya Street, not even like the quietest places like Runda or the real Karen. It could actually be smaller than our Nairobi. Especially what’s supposed to be the CBD – it only has a handful of buildings, none too tall – and the rest of the city is made up of townhouses and short storied buildings.

Reason? The city decided to never lose their sight of their beloved mountains, so they restricted building heights to a certain level. And are the mountains lovely or what?! I mean, look at that landscape!

Denver mountains frankmwenda US

Denver mountain view

I was staying at a lovely AirbNb right by the road. Which was the other amusing thing about America for a Kenyan like me – there are no fences! People build right next to the pavement with the doors and windows right there. You can literally peek into people’s houses and if you are a thief, the doors are so invitingly close. My room was by the road and didn’t even have a lock. OK, I lie, the door had a password. You would expect a big ass padlock with chains and dogs, right?

Speaking of dogs, virtually everyone has a dog. There are a lot more dogs than children, and people take their dogs everywhere. Especially to the office. You go to work with your dog and the dog waits for you. And gets petted by all these dog-lovers. Because everyone has a dog. 

dog walking

Gay Pride

If dogs in offices is weird in Nairobi standards, how about the fact that men kiss other men in public, and walk around eating ice cream and holding hands? Yes, homosexuality is legal in the US! Women freely date other women and men other men and its perfectly normal. They get married, too, a lot. I was there during the Pride Month, so everyone was proudly showing off their pride and flag – while in Africa, the pride month is the shame month. Let’s face it, though: there are lots of gay men and lesbians all over, I know several in Kenya, only that they hide from this whole judging and discriminating society.

A lesbian waitress  in a bar, after seeing my Kenyan passport, asked me if we jail people of the LGBT community, I told her the constitution says they should be jailed but Kenya doesn’t enforce that like many other countries and she gave me a lecture on freeing of the mind. Story for another day. 🙂

Wonder how the waitress saw my passport? Well, they take IDs very seriously in the US before selling you alcohol, or weed (which is legal). You have to show your ID, even if you look 50, and there are no hard feelings… vile we feel bad when bouncers ask for our ID pale club Spree especially if you are with a Msupa (why don’t they ask the girls, even those that look 12?)

I could go and on and on, you know, about everything, the mountain hike, the train experience that almost made me miss my flight, the food, the bikes for hire, the rickshaws, the beggars, the Nairobi Park in Denver, my first Walmart experience, the highry and the celebrities, but tuachie hapo. For now. 

See you again soon, America.

Nairobi Initiation 7: Fighting the Police

It’s a fine Sunday evening and I’m walking to Plot 10 from seeing my one of my hunnies at UoN Hall 5. We’ve been there since we left church and so, it’s been a romantic day – I am walking on clouds with a bounce… and a sweet feeling on my lips, of course. I’m even thinking about the future already, when I will break my virginity and stop kulaing kwa macho.

And so, I’m startled when someone grabs me roughly on the shoulder, bringing me from my utopia heaven to this rough world that’s deficient of chills. I look up and see the ugly, burrowed face of a guy in a brown jacket. The pungent smell of tobacco and last week’s managu is hitting my nose and he has been talking me:

“Kijana unaninyamazia? Unaenda wapi?”
Without thinking, I tell him: “Kwa nyanyako!”
“Unatusi nani?” and without warning, the asshole slaps me … hard in the face! Still not thinking, I also slap him so hard my hands hurt. God, that’s a rough, hard face.

The guy is now shocked. Bet he didn’t think I would pack such a blow. So, he grabs my collar, and I grab his, as short as I am. He knocks the back of my head and because I can’t reach his, I stamp his feet like Diego Costa. He jumps at the pain.

I don’t even run as I should. He comes at me with the vigour of someone who has overdosed Viagra and grabs the back of my trouser and lifts me up like the police do. He then pins me against the street light with so much impunity, I think I will break a rib. I get composed and grab him by his balls, and because I’m a fellow man who will not squeeze another man’s balls hivi hivi, I tell him to release me or I will squeeze him so hard he will wish he died.

“Mimi ni Askari.” He begs in the most desperate voice I’ve ever heard. ”

“Hapana, wewe ni mwizi. Prove that you are a police officer”

Using his free hand, he reaches his shirt pocket and retrieves a Police ID. Still running on adrenaline, I ask him why he was man-handling me in the first place.

“Niachilie ama nikuuwe wewe!”

Then reality hits me…It’s the era of extrajudicial killings and people have been killed for much less. I release him and we both bend like athletes at the end of the race, panting. It’s been a weird minute that looked like hours.

“But hata wewe afande, usishike mtu hivi hivi kama hujamshow ID. I thought unaniibia.” I quip.

“Hii haitaishia hapa nanii. Kwanza leta ID”

“Ukiongea vibaya nitakwambia unipeleke kwenye unataka na nitakushinda. “

“Utashinda risasi? Utashinda risasi?” And the damned man comes at me again. Now shaken, I meekly give him my ID.

“Ooh! Wewe ni Mmeru. Unafikiria hata kama Matthew Iteere ni wenu siwezi kufanya kitu? Ama unafikiria nitatambua hasira ya Mmeru mkundu wewe?!” Matthew Iteere is the Police Commissioner.

I just look at him. This is a very angry officer. I’m sure he’s serious about killing me. Actually, if he had a gun, I’d be dead already… another kid gangsta terrorizing the police. And I have really terrorized this one.

“Twende! Twende station ghasia wewe! “ He starts nuzzling me up the hill towards Central Police Station. In a way, I’m relieved that he is taking me in. On the other hand, I know the other officers will make me a punching bag when he tells them what I did. But in my mind, I know if it goes to court any judge will release me. I am too small to fight such a big, trained officer, anyway.

Maybe this shame is in his mind too because just as we reach the Moi Avenue junction, he returns my ID. As I reach out to take it, he gives me a grown up slap that could be heard in Gitura! Aki I see mene mene  stars!  He then looks at me menacingly and tells me he will kill me if he ever sees me again. And he simply walks away, leaving me dazed. Nairobians are just glancing at me, not even asking what I got that slap for. Damn you, people of Nairobi!

I turn and walk home with a stinging headache… Remembering my last, more dramatic encounter with the police.

Story for another day.

Oh Shit… I love toilets!

toilet funny

Is there an award for the person who spends the most time in the toilet? I deserve that award – I’ve realized I spend insane amounts of time in that little room.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I have seen the toilet as an adult. You see, in Gitura where I grew up, the thought of shitting inside the house was unimaginable. Why would anyone want to do that unless they are in a police cell or too sick to move? So, we have long drop latrines as far from the house as possible. You squat, take a good aim and release. And no, you cannot take your phone into a latrine… balancing takes a lot of work, and you have to support yourself with the door or walls… and STILL aim for the hole and wave houseflies away.

These ones

In the past few weeks, I have made myself a new friend doing very remarkable things in the society. His name is Titi Kadu and he’s the founder of RaHa Solutions, which provides water tanks and toilets to needy communities. The motivation? Over 75% Kenyans don’t have access to clean water and over 50% don’t have toilets!
Let’s forget water for a moment… do you know how important a toilet is?  I mean, is there a more pleasurable moment than taking a shit… and how do these people enjoy their phones? Don’t phones get more interesting in the toilet?

So, imagine there are people who don’t enjoy these toilet pleasures… and you say you aren’t blessed?

I love the toilet, Oh God, I really love my toilet times. And my toilet time is sacred… Researchers say that an average person spends 4 days per year in a toilet, I think I spend 12. Why? That’s where I think, relax, escape… and most of my blog posts are written on the toilet seat, including this. Now you know why some of the things I write are so shitty. 🙂

It’s said that you shouldn’t work on your desk for too long without taking a break. I have been following that religiously… but my breaks have been spent in the toilet for the longest time, taking so much time I leave the toilet feeling weird. I mean, what do people think when they see me leave the toilet after 20 maneno minutes? But then, kila nyani na starehe zake.

But sometimes the toilet experience can be bad, really bad. You get into the toilet and your bowels start dancing (have you realized, even if you haven’t been all that pressed, when you get into the toilet it pulsates?)… but now, you realize the toilet seat is a huge mess? The people who pee on toilet seats, and those who step on them (how do you do that) have a special place in hell.

Related image

You get into the toilet and notice pee and mud, and hair on the seat… and wish for a moment that the poo can go back to your stomach. Even placing tissue paper on top makes you cringe, and assuming some of those difficult poses is an abuse to the sanctity of the toilet.

Stop doing that! Keep the toilet sacred… leave it usable. And I’m speaking as an authority in toilet matters… told you I’m an expert. And my expertise spreads far and wide. 🙂

Stop doing this shit on the toilet

You don’t have to do this shit on the toilet

I think it’s this expertise that made Florence of Lavena Care ask me to help her make toilets the sacred places they are, using an anointing oil on the toilet seat before sitting on it. So, ladies and gentlemen of Kenya, Lavena Care is a toilet seat sanitizer. Every heard of those? You simply spray it on the toilet seat, wait for like 6 seconds, wipe with tissue… and place your bum without fear. Germs gone, UTI out of the window… and it smells like paradise.

I have never been in a kanju toilet… I hear those things are bad. Very bad. And I don’t go to bad toilets. Some of us may not have an option, though, like girls who, when they got to go, they got to go. This Lavena is tested on kanju toilets, and other public toilets like schools (even UoN Men hostels), office loos and a certain public hospital. So yes! You can use a shared toilet comfortably. Like when visitors come to your place and you cringe over the state of your truly personal space.

FREEBIE ALERT: Since I want you to join the Choo Sacco, I will give you one or two of you a small bottle of Lavena Care Toilet Sanitizer – I can afford it, it’s only kedo 150 bob. Just comment on this post with a bad toilet experience.


Free Toilets

I also mentioned RaHa Solutions. RaHa Solutions doesn’t employ field officers to go around looking for villages and schools that don’t have water… it’s the public that nominates such communities. So, if you know of a community that doesn’t have toilets, or water… simply fill this small form. I am nominating my village Gitura… nominate your village too… who knows you can use that to campaign for MCA in 2022?


Enjoy your potty! 🙂

Random Memories 6: My First Flight – Landing

Fly Emirates Dubai Landing

Where did we leave it last time? Oh, I was getting high high in the sky on my very first flight. So, lets complete the flight and the landing, will we?

Now, every time I ever took a whisky, even my bowels used to stagger – I have to use the loo at the ,”earliest opportunity. This was no exception… adding on the different things I had eaten for the first time. And no, on a plane, you don’t tell the pilot to simamisha ndege you go to the bushes like you do with Kensilver. I knew planes have toilets but I had no idea where they would be. At the back is where the food had come from so obviously that’s not where the loos were. And I hadn’t seen them at the front when I came in.

After fidgeting for some time like my Meru tutors taught me – where I come from men don’t ask where the latrines are, they simply go around following the smells and flies to find them. And there was no way I was going around the plane looking for loos… I have seen enough movies to know people get arrested on suspicion of terrorism in planes. After a few minutes of my stomach groaning because of the mathoganio I had eaten, I heard a kid call out to his mother that he needed to go, I became alert, followed them with my eyes up to the back of the toilet… Then back past us to the front where they stood for some time until this huge, pink man came out of the cubicle. So, that was the toilet.

As I waited, more people went to the back, then to the front till there was a queue outside the door. Made me wonder if they had to go register at the back before going to poo. Or maybe there was a Emirates kanju back there to take the money in exchange for tissue paper.

When in Gitura, do what Giturans do, that’s what my grandfather always tells me. So, gingerly, I rose and went to the back of the plane looking for the kanju guy. One step at a time… the aeroplane was rocking back and forth… the air roads have potholes too. There were people standing around drinking Tusker and looking like Kenyan rugby players along the walkway, talking loudly in Swahili. I even ngotad one, in a show of confidence. You know where there are big Kenyans, ngetas can fly, even if it is in a street thousands of feet in the air. Okay, I have exaggerated that one. I passed them and went where I had seen everyone go.

There was no registration desk. Those were toilets, but there was a sign they were out of use. Made me wonder if they were full already, why not simply open the underside and let shit fly.

Anyway, I went back, all the way to the front where the rest of the people were waiting for their turns. I put on my macho face to show them I was also an Ol G, listening to music through my iPod. I won’t tell you what I did in there because my culture still doesn’t allow me… But I took these toilet mirror images like a socialite.

Disturbances removed, I went back to Julia, who was lost in sleep (it was late at night and there is a reason why planes have pillows and blankets). I couldn’t sleep so I kept listening to music and playing with my seat and watching my screen without sound because, remember, the system wasn’t working and I was too air-wise to ask the flight attendants.

Then I sunk in a reflective mood… Thanking God for His mercies. Being in a plane and you aren’t going to cancer treatment in India is God’s Grace, isn’t it?

My musings continued till a voice came up that we were starting the descent and could we put our seat belts on? People, I was in another world, landing, for the first time, in a soil that is not Kenyan! We were landing in Dubai!

Immediately the plane shifted to begin dropping, hell broke loose!

Painful landing

Remember when I said using my earphones on the plane was a big mistake? Well, that’s when I realized that. My ears started exploding. And with it, my head felt as if it was sinking in. I started wondering if I had contracted Ebola or some other deadly disease that was hellbent on ensuring that I never stopped in another country. Or which jealous village witch had heard I was flying and had went me kinyumenyume. I seriously thought I was dying. Julia was sympathetic but I didn’t need sympathy right then. I couldn’t stand to motion for the attendants because when the seat belt sign is on you can’t move. Julia had been told it sometimes happens and the remedy is chewing gum, and she had some. I tried that and it seemed to further open my ears. I was dying.

Landing Aerosinusitis headache

I felt like a zombie as the attendants took us through the landing routines like declaring any imports, where to find out connecting flights and such. Julie did all that for me.

It didn’t even let me enjoy my first landing… But I took some photos of Dubai by night. They are still iPod quality, sorry.

Breathtaking view of Dubai by night… but not in pain.

When we went out, customs was like a blur to me… and if you are confused in JKIA you haven’t been at Dubai International Airport. It’s just enormous with many many people from all over the world looking a thousand different ways and speaking languages you can’t decipher, especially if you are a first time traveller. But it’s properly labelled and we didn’t have the location problems we had at JKIA… and we were now experts in airport matters.

We had heard that the Dubai Duty Free is the cheapest and I was having problems not looking at the phones, laptops and other gizmos as we waded through looking for a pharmacy. I just had to get painkillers.

I did, and the attendants seemed to know what was ailing me. Which is called Aerosinusitis, a painful inflammation caused by a difference in air pressures inside and outside the cavities  which was aggravated by me using in-ear earphones. I told you…big mistake!

The meds worked magic and I was ready to explore Dubai. We had 5 hours before our next flight to New Delhi.

Random Memories 5: My First Flight

FIRST FLIGHT FROGS

We had gotten ourselves a business trip to India, Julie and I, for an e-Commerce and Customer Loyalty conference…

To travel, you need passports. Which we don’t have and the notice period was three weeks. The queues at Nyayo house are long and torturing. And when I get to the front of the queue they reject my birth certificate because it looks “like it was tampered with.” Made me feel older. Makes me wonder if I was born earlier and they have been lying to me all along (there are parents who do that). Or, was I really born?

Anyway, I have two options, actually three. One, get one of those guys who hang around Nyayo House to forge one for me; two, travel all the way to Meru to get the replacement which I didn’t have an idea how long it would take… and three, give up on the trip and carry my head home. The way the odds are looking after I throw out to the forging option, I may as well give up. But I am a fighter, and I have friends like Liz who work with the government.

Long story traveled to Meru, Liz gets me my replacement birth certificate and I am at Nyayo the following Monday morning. Now, it is a race against time. And the staff at Nyayo know this, and so, they work slowly telling us to toa kitu kidogo so that they “speed up the process.” We refuse, because their website said it would take two weeks, and we are upstanding members of the society who don’t deal in corruption. Big mistake.

Three days before our travel day, we still have no passports – we still need to apply for the visa. The office is telling us they may have to cancel our trip. Julie is on the verge of tears. We go to a few offices, see a couple of bosses…not giving up. We stay in one lady’s office for over an hour, not wanting to leave, till she confirms that our passports are actually ready. Someone is holding them and there is no way we are leaving this place. Even the Police can’t get us to leave, late in the evening; way after closing. We just have to get the passports if they are to have peace. It is our right.

i AM NOT LEAVING

Our resilience pays off. Some commissioner confirms that out passports are ready, even shows us so that we leave, but there is a process to pick them; so we have to come back tomorrow morning. And we do… and get our prized passports! Now it is time to camp at the India High Commission till we get the visa. We had one day.

That is easier. We just pay extra and get our passports stamped. They don’t even ask questions apart from how our company was helping the Indian economy. You gotta love the simplicity of the Indians, not like the British, who denied me a visa to the UK.

And finally, one day to the flight, kedo 5:00 pm, we are now sure we are traveling!

BCD Travel has these services called airport transfers, and this cab picks me from my doorstep all the way in Limuru to take me to JKIA. (I wasn’t using alot of cabs much back then, so, of course, I felt like a VIP. This was the life, man). I’m still in a daze when we get to the airport and we have to look for our gate, pulling our bags like seasoned travelers. We know we were going to the Fly Emirates section, but we don’t know how that will be like. At some point, we stand at a closed door marked Emirates wondering why they are closed so close to the time of the flight… only to ask a guard who takes us to the right entrance just a few feet away. Chickenheads. 🙂

Yes, we didn’t want to look out of place. You know how you chew gum and bounce in confidence? That was Julie and I. Even the Customs guys must have thought our passports were just replacements of filled up passports.

Everything done, we are in the waiting area two hours before time. Enough time to take selfies and call our fans. We are flying, it is a big deal. You know how you just sit around wishing someone will call you so that you tell them:

“I’m at the airport… yes… I have a flight to India… hahaha…. yes, see you when I’m back.”

Anyway, I call my mom first. She’s always first. Our conversation is long and I’m telling her I will fly to Dubai, spend a few hours there, and then fly out to India.

Where is this India, Mwenda?

It’s in Asia, if you get Evan’s Atlas and check, you will see where India is. 

Ah. Don’t worry. So, how many countries will you pass on your way to and from India?

I don’t know, maybe 10,  20. And the Indian Ocean or Red Sea. Not so sure. 

And so on. Reminds me of when I was a Geography teacher at Gitura Secondary School. And then that pause. The pause we had in our conversation when I was doing my KCPE, when we were discussing my upcoming initiation, when she was leaving me in High School for the first time, when I left home for college, when I had my first graduation. I know she has tears in her eyes. She always does when I manage another achievement. Tears of joy at what her offspring is doing.

To break the silence I say,

“Maami, remember when you came to my graduation and you said Nairobi was too near and now I need to take over the world.”

“Yes, and now look at you. You are going overseas just as we said.”

“How did you know?”

“Listen, Mwenda… I know for a fact that anything you say in faith, God must make it happen.”

I love this woman!

She wishes me a good trip. I don’t have to call her when I am there. That’s my mother. She knows I can take care of myself. And I have, since I was a kid.

FLIGHT KENYA MOUNTAIN

I don’t know what mountain this is, but it’s not too far from Nairobi

The next call is to my father, who is also elated that I am making this all important step in life. And he says we should talk every day I am there, because there is a son of sijui who, who calls the dad every day. These fathers… I guess any time I call he will be running to a group of his friends and talking loudly about India, Dubai, etc and telling them he’s been talking to his son overseas. Such is his pride. (He still gets his friends to listen in any time I am in a radio).

We then wait around for our flight to be called, browsing the duty free shops. Julia wants to buy a cake and milk to take on the flight but I tell her there will be a several course meal in-flight. I thought duty free is supposed to be very cheap, well, it’s not.

Kidogo kidogo, we hear our flight being called and we proceed to our gate. We know our gate. We know these things.

But first, there are rules, setbacks. You can’t board with toothpaste, you can’t board with a soda, not even water in a container. And they have a huge waste bin for those. As if that’s not embarrassing enough, I have to get rid of my belt – I have a big-ass trouser on that I have to hold on to – as I remove my shoes. Luckily, my socks are new. I would have sent these people home. 🙂 I then walk through and wear my shoes and belt. It’s like dressing in public.

We are then directed through a hollow, metal hallway that somehow swings and echoes from the footsteps. At the end, there are these beautiful yellow yellows in Fly Emirates uniform, smiling so good you would think they have no problems in the world. Oh, and they call me “sir” as they welcome me to this room with seats that look like a bus’.

Julia and Frank flight

Julia and I making the entrance

Wait… this bus is an Airbus! I am inside a plane! The son of Maua is in an aeroplane! In my mind, I thought you board a plane like you see Obama boarding Air Force One, you know, going up a staircase leading to the door. Looking back though a window, I realise the metal hallway was actually a connection to the plane.

window seat flight JKIA

I want to do a small dance and hug Julie, who is as elated as I am. But I don’t want to look like a kamshamba who’s never been in a plane. We walk to our seats, observe how people are locking their stuff above and do exactly that.

And then we settle, playing around with the seat screens like we see people doing. I can’t get my headphones to work. And I’m too shy, or whatever that is, to ask the beautiful hostesses. So, I just connect my iPod earphones, and get to setting my music. Big mistake.

People are still trickling in. Right on time, the screens freeze, and a voice comes through…

“Welcome on board ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys…” It’s like in the movies!

A hostess comes around checking our seat belts and showing us the nearest exits, in case of anything. As if you can exit an airplane in the air. The screens are also showing us what to do in case of a crash, or if the plane lands in the sea. Damn! Makes me wonder if I hustled so much for a passport just to land in some sea.

The plane starts reversing pole pole. I’m in a window seat just for this. To see the damn thing move. Speed increases. Julie has one of those cheeky smiles of hers. Suddenly, we feel like we are in a lift. The plane has lifted off. The airport and other aeroplanes start shrinking below us. This is big time. Even if the plane lands now, I have flown. That lift off counts, right?

Nairobi is now becoming a blur below us, the buildings looking like one stretch of nothingness. Cars can’t be seen either. Unless they are those blurry dots down below. Soon, we are seeing something like the geographical atlas. Only the boundaries are missing. The greens and the browns are there.

Wait, clouds are floating below us. It’s a clear March afternoon, and the clouds are like white sheets of awesomeness around and below us. I have now taken ten thousand pics on my iPod. The feeling cannot be explained.

flight clouds wing

But then, it gets darker and all there is is a black blanket. I get back to toying around with my screen. I listen to hip-hop and other music that I can’t tell. And watch a few movies like Alex does, fast forwarding the shit out of them.

Best moment- when food trolleys start coming along. There is a menu with two options for food, which we have no idea what they are. So we decide to take both, Julie with one and I, the other. If shit happens we will just share the edible one.

And drinks. I take a few mini bottles of Red Label, beer and some other vodka with a Russian name, some wine and a small tonic. Everything is small around these parts. Not like I expected mizinga, anyway.

The food is delicious. It’s in like two courses but I gobble everything down onetime and settle to imbibe on the kanywaji. Getting high high up in the sky is delirious.

This story just got too long. Let’s leave it high in the air for now. We will get back to it next time. Hint: Aeroplanes have toilets. And using your own earphones on a flight can land you into big problems, as I found out. Oh, and Dubai is confusingly beautiful!

Here is Part 2!

Yo! Yo! I am a Rapper.

Frankmwenda the Rapper

I am a rapper. At heart, everywhere. And now, it’s time to roga you musically. How do I know that? That I am a super MCee, super lyric buster? I just know… I know my talents and rapping is one of them.

This rap mojo started when I was in high school. In Form 2, to be specific. My Gitura ushamba was slowly wearing off and I was making up for lost time. I was sporting towards “becoming a G”. My Lyric Book (remember them?), did not have those mellow Westlife shit yours had. No! Mine was Gangsta… I collected lyrics from XZibit, Busta Rhymes, Dr. Dre, Lil Kim, Wu Tang, Run DMC and such – it came with a Parental Advisory sticker because, well, it was explicit content.

How did I get these lyrics, you ask? Way before there were Cyber Cafes, Posta used to have computers that connected to the internet. All you needed to do is buy a SurfCard worth kedo 100 bob and use the internet for 3 hours. I would use my full days during the holidays researching about Hip Hop and writing down the lyrics, writing, not printing. That’s how dedicated I was to Hip Hop. Then when the school opened I would be the real thing, debating underground and old school Hip Hop with the cool kids from the city.

Then I bought cassettes, lots of radio cassettes loaded with Hip Hop. CD ni za jana. I even bought MP3 CDs, never mind we had no CD player, and there was no place I would listen to it. I was just intrigued that I could have 150 songs; Hip Hop songs in one place. Again, it would give me front seat in the hall during Entertainment Fridays.

Hip hop cassettes Frankmwenda rapper

Some of the tapes still in my collection

In school we had factions. East Coast and West Coast that never saw eye to eye. Tupac and Notorious BIG wasn’t as vicious, those lived on different Coasts of the US… we used to live in the same dormitories and learn in the same classes. It was war! And the neighbouring Kanjalu Girls School had their own G-Unit… so we formed our Terror Squad and terrible disses flew.

Church Rapper

My G culture carried on even to the village. To Church. Soon, I was freestyling the Good Gospel of the Lord. I would ask for a slot to “kuwaimbia wimbo mmoja” and rap my message. One time, during Christmas I called the Wise Men “the smart dudes from the East Side”… and made the E sign. A church elder called me later to counsel me. 🙂 Or that time when I was playing Black Eyed Peas’ Where is the Love song in Church (it sounded gospel-ish, no?) Only that it was a cassette and Side B had DMX’ X Gonna Give it to You. Started like this:

Uh, yeah don’t get it twisted
This rap shit, is mine
Motherf****r, it’s not, a f****g, game
F**k what you heard
It’s what you hearing

Another time one of those Holy Joes in village churches who judge the lesser, more sinful people using their own definitions of Christianity; said something about my dressing and I hit him with a verse from Kleptomaniac’s Bado Niko.

mimi bado niko mi Frank ni hatari
na si swali
toroka songa mbali
fimbo yangu mic mzee chunga maslahi
niaje unanipinga mi ni Musa ama Msinai
mi huwanga na sumu ndani ya saliva
niki-spit naenda deep kama deep sea diver

When I came to Nairobi I started attending (free) Hip Hop concerts at Sarakasi; those rap sessions. And this other time at KICC when we stayed at a Ukoo Flani Mau Mau Hip Hop concert so late we almost got mugged.

Kero the free-styler

If you thought Kero was Mshamba think again (okay, to some extent he was)… when we didn’t have a radio, we would use his phone’s Bomfunk ringtone to freestyle ourselves to sleep. We had lines. Better lines and flow than kina Khaligraph Jones.

Too bad I left Nairobi for some time, started growing up and looking for money in the corporate world – made me forget that I was a rapper at heart.

And then recently I started meeting rappers for coffee, still in the corporate world. Like Kaka and Juliani and asking them about their lifes in music- you know, learning from the real Gs.

King Kaka frankmwenda rapper

Don’t you think my stars are aligning? Isn’t that a sign that I should be a rapper?

Yesterday I decided to roga my fans with a freestyle on Facebook… and it all came back to me. Check that out here, the real killers are in the comments.

Hip Hop is in my blood. I should become a rapper. I have some sunglasses, that stadii hat, lines… and I have an Amerucan accent. All it takes to be a rapper. Want an autograph?

KnowWatI’mSayin’

Miathene Mono – My First Day in High School

Miathene Mono Kenya

I have seen a few monos in the streets this week. You can tell a mono from a mile away, you can smell even a mono. You can see it in the clothes, brand new, with ridiculously sharp iron lines, blindingly shone shoes, crudely knitted names on the sweaters, shirts and sometimes, even pants.  And the faces, the faces betray monoism, frightened eyes, wildly chewing jaws, bouncing steps (fake confidence). I see them and I shake my head. If only they knew where they are going.

Reminds me of my mono moment, years ago.

I was a fresh ntane, initiated into a full Meru man after Primary School, right before High School. So I was swollen. I mean, fat (when people are circumcised in Meru, they are secluded and fed. It was said, your only work in seclusion was to eat, lie down and poop, so it was a mother’s prestige when her son came out with closed eyes, I mean, fat cheeks and fat eyebrows).

When I was called to Miathene Boys’ I was both elated and sad. It was my first choice and it was the first time I would be leaving home for a long spell. ( Mother and I had shunned boarding school in Primary). My most hated aunt (everyone has that one hated relative) said Miathene was far and she wouldn’t come for Visiting Days (I was happy she wouldn’t be coming to see me, anyways) but I was scared. Where was this Miathene? Why did I choose a school I had no clue where it was?

But then, I was now a man and wasn’t allowed to tell my parents I was scared. I was gonna be a man and go.

So, we went out, did shopping and got ready, and did the normal monoism rituals. We had the uniform marked, and the dictionary and Atlas and the Bible (given to me by the Church) written in blocky red on the sides and random pages inside. Even my metal box was taken to a paint artist who wrote in a fancy font, FRANKLINE M. KIBUACHA.

I couldn’t say I needed boxers so I waited till the last day and told Kathee, my day father (LOL, that’s the person who takes care of you inside seclusion).

To Dusty Miathene in a Landrover!

A neighbour gave us his Landrover, and people to fill it started queuing for a place. By the leaving day, we were a full Landrover. It was open at the back, so about 10 of us stood back there and started the journey. The son of the village was going to high school and the whole village had come to take him there  (It was such a big deal then in Gitura). Those who didn’t go gave me tokens. I was loaded.

When we branched off the main tarmac road at Kianjai, I started praying that this was a shortcut and we would soon join tarmac past Meru town. There was no way I would be going to school in such a dry, dusty place! Yes, it was so dusty we took lesos and covered our heads (even the circumcised me).

And we covered several kilometres of this, with the February sun shining angrily at us for daring disrupt it’s beauty sleep with a trail of dust and the roar of an old Landrover. We soon came to a Market called Miathene and it all dawned on me. I would be spending 4 years in this godforsaken place which was definitely not what I had signed up for. The owner of the Landrover had an aunt in Miathene market, Mrs. Nkumbuku and she had a shop. We passed by her and she committed to be my mother, that I was to lack nothing.I. oils the anything on credit and she would be paid back. If any problem arose at school, she was to be there for me.

Miathene Market

Miathene Market

Grand Entry

We then drove into the school. Dry, brown playground with grass drying from the hot Tigania sun, old timber and mabati buildings before you came to the Administration Block which had a roundabout that held the flag post. Students came out to stare and point at our vehicle. Our Landrover had made quite an entrance. 🙂

We hopped off. The murram felt punishing under my Landrover-lagged feet. I looked around, there was a long queue of metal boxes snaking to the Admin block, which looked like a classroom. It was after classes, the bigger boys were already milling around to take a look at the monos. Some were too huge, some had beards (imagine beards in high school) and many had these menacing looks – more like predators waiting for their prey to finish up admission into the jungle. I was scared.

Luckily, two bigger boys came forward. Morris (a menacing Form 4 from my village, who I didn’t even know was a student) and Felix (a Form 2 who had spotted my cute cousin Doreen). I heaved a sigh of relief. With these two, no one was going to touch me! And they assured as much – Morris to my parents, and Felix to my cousin (he clearly had a crush on her, which helped).

Touch him again, Mono!

When we were cleared to go to the Dorms, I walked ahead carrying my bucket as Morris and Felix carried my box. Suddenly, a boy came out of the blues and ran a rough hand across my face and announced that he was “removing cobwebs” while trying to snatch the bucket from me. You should have heard the slap Morris gave him!

“You touch him again and I will kill you, MONO!”

He was a Form 2, and to a Form 4, everybody up to Form 3 was a mono! And I was happy to be his mono.

This is a class in Miathene

This is a class in Miathene

The following few days were so interesting, I should make a movie out of the experience.

__

Main Pic: Njugush. Source: Standard

Frankline Mwenda Kibuacha

my name is FRANKLINE MWENDA KIBUACHA

and this is who I am

—-
My parents say

I am the most hardworking, ambitious kid who has set mercurial heights for my younger siblings.

My friends say

I am a go-getter who seems to have a solution for everything. If only they knew I don’t!

My former bosses say

I am a creative guy who thinks intensely through things before doing them effectively.

That’s what they say. But here is my story:

In the beginning, the Earth and the Heavens were created… and many years later, I was born in the little village of Gitura, in Maua, Kenya. Yes, I am a Meru. You know, people view tribes badly here, but I also celebrate positive ethnicity. The one that appreciates the diversity of Kenya and the world.

Anyway, I went to the local Primary School, Gitura where I finished top of my Division(I hear I still keep the record) and joined Miathene Boys High School. I finished that, too and decided to become an accountant. So, I enrolled into KASNEB and became a Certified Accountant of Kenya. (CPA-K). I then went to Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology and studied my Bachelors in Commerce – Finance. Do I have a natural way with numbers? No! I was very poor. But I don’t let things challenge me for life.

And now, I am in ICT, Corporate Communication, and Marketing, especially Digital Marketing and all things online.

I create campaigns!

I have worked for corporates, start-ups, briefcase companies, sole proprietors, ghosts… and for myself.

Campaign creation.

Content creation for blogs and social media.

Social Media management.

Customer service.

Public Relations and Corporate communication.

E-Commerce management.

Web design (and some graphic design).

Marketing Analytics.

Affiliate Management and Referral Marketing.

Business Development.

Editing stuff.

Systems Administration.

I was even an accountant for some time.

See, I am a jack of many trades. Am I a master of all of them? Well, pretty much. I haven’t had that many complaints from people which means I am either terrifying (which I am not) or very good at what I do.

I love books, I love people, I love cats, I love football… and I love God.

I know how to waste time and play with my thumbs in my free time. But that’s boring! I always strive to go beyond the snore inducing and meaningless things and pursue my dreams, which are quite lofty.

What you will find in my CV:

Marketing Manager (Public Relations & Affiliate)

Head of Digital Marketing

Head of Online Business

Systems Administrator/ IT Manager

But I have done Lots of other things. Here are just a few:


The Ameru Blog

Founder

Web Design


Soft Choice Africa

Web Design


iNSIGHT MA3

Web Design


Web Design/Social Media

Want to talk to me?

Of course you do!

To My Teachers and all Teachers: I Love You!

teachers punishment Kenya

I am who I am largely because of my teachers. I am even writing this blog, in part, because I don’t want to let my teachers down. They all thought I was going to be a journalist, or editor of some sort, because, English and Swahili were my bread and butter. Oddly, all teachers, both in Primary school and High school; even teachers who never taught me but knew me… They all advised me to be a journalist. I feel like I let them down. Or maybe I should write a newspaper article and send copies to all my teachers.

 Somebody hook me up with a newspaper!

 I joined nursery school, or preschool to you, at three years old. I think my mother was busy and she wanted me to spend my days in school. Who else went to school that early back then? And so, my second mom became Teacher Seberina. She would take me to the ruhusa( that’s short call to the uninitiated),  she would feed me and do all the things moms do. And because my parents used to teach me how to write the alphabet, my name and their names (first child syndrome), I was very bored in class, I knew most of the things Seberina taught us.

Our Class 1 entry test was “Write your name” I wrote mine and Teacher Seberina promoted me to Class One. But the hunger I felt that day! Nursery pupils would go home at around 12:00 noon and Class One pupils would go at 1:00 pm. I simply couldn’t handle the hunger… so, the following day I went back to Nursery and told Seberina my mother had told me to go back. I never told my parents – they knew after a few months – Parents, check your kid’s books every evening! If you know Seberina, and where I can find her, please tell me.

When I decided time for Class One had come, I went ahead and met Teacher Mutunga. Now, Mr. Mutunga was feared by pupils in Upper Primary. But to us in his Class, he was every so gentle. He rarely caned us, and was just too patient. In first term, I got paracent(100%) in all subjects except Kimeru, where I got 36%. So I had 736/800 points and I was still number 16 out of 81 pupils. It was a huge class of clever pupils managed by one teacher. Mr. Mutunga called my grandfather to school (I will tell you about my father one of these days), and told him to buy me a Kimeru textbook, and he would be amazed at what I was capable of doing. I got a Kimeru book, and needless to say, the following term I shot to number 1. My grandfather still talks about this one incident. Long live Mr. Mutunga.

 By class two, I was a philanthropist. My teacher was Mrs. Maore. She, like Mr. Mutunga, had two sides. The gentle one, and the tough one. She taught us the National Anthem in both languages, the Loyalty Pledge, and the Lord’s prayer. I think that was her mandate. We were the only class in that whole school that knew the Loyalty Pledge. One day, I did homework for my best friend, Barnabas, and Mrs. Maore knew from the handwriting. So, she sent me to the staff room to get a cane. The only cane in the freaking staff room was this loong bamboo stick! The teacher who handed it to me just told me ‘Good luck to whoever is going to be punished with this’. To cut a long story short, I have never helped anyone else do their work since then. 🙂

teachers were savage

 Class 3 was also a big big class. We were 73, in one class. So big it was divided into two classes though in one class room. Two rows were a separate class from the other, with a separate class teacher. Miss Susan and Mr. Kathukumi. They split the subjects, but marking would be done separately. They would sit with us in class, each on their side of the class. And they somehow managed us. I was position 3 in all three terms.

Upper Primary: Coming back after lunch!

Now, Class 4 was different business altogether. Upper Primary. On a separate block and “coming back after lunch”. Discipline was paramount and you were now a responsible youth. Our big Class three was cut down to only around 40 pupils. Some were ‘asked’ to remain in class 3 and others just dropped out. Others went off to boarding school. Mr. Kathukumi went with us as the class teacher-all the way to Class 8, but now we had to live with many teachers. Different subjects. Life was tough.

 Mr. Kungutia taught us Home Science and Mathematics. This was another crazy teacher who I hated with passion in school…and loved outside school because he would always come by our home to chat with Grandpa, and buy Mr maandazi. I meet him every time I go home, to date. And he has maintained if he didn’t beat me as he did, I wouldn’t turn out how I did. But he says he wished I was bigger- I was so small, “nilikuwa nakosa nitakuchapa wapi“. He became my best friend when he was transferred.

students share a desk Africa
Pic: www.npr.org/

Mr. Mbogori taught us Music and Mathematics at some point. He would give you one stroke of the cane for every sum you got wrong. And since I was one of the poorest in Maths, I was an enemy. I was guaranteed to receive canes. One day, he came to Music class and said “There are two clefs in music. The G-Clef and ……. “. Being a mjuaji, I raised my hand and said “Bus Clef“.

Stupid! Which bus are you talking about, Kensilver, Stagecoach, or Kamawe Bus? It is Bass Clef.. pronounced, Biis”.

I was the happiest when Music was scrapped and he became our English teacher. He became my best friend henceforth. Last we met, he introduced me to his teacher friends as “.….he used to write compositions better than most novelists….

 Female teachers are so much like mothers. Smiling with you one minute and beating the bejesus out of you the next. Take, for instance, Mrs. Mutua. She was a very good friend of our family, and her daughters, Dorothy and Bessy, were and are some of my best homies. We loved her in church and the community (still do), but when she was on duty at school, woe unto you if you came to school late. She used to cane our bare feet-in that cold. One day, it was raining and I refused to be beaten. We had running battles all day with her, and I presented myself to her in the evening when she threatened to report to my father. Mrs. Kamau, too. She taught us CRE and was very motherly, always counseling and advising our adolescent heads. Until she caught you getting naughty. She would cane you while advising you. “I-am-doing-this-to help-you. You-Mwenda-will-remember-me-in-future!” How many hyphens did I use? Those are strokes of the cane.

 Did I tell you I loved and thrived in languages? My favourite teachers, obviously, were my English and Kiswahili teachers. Mr. Marete and Mr. Ngeera. I would entertain them using my English Compositions and Inshas and they would repay me with special care. They would give me books-novels and riwayas– and compositions from other schools. Where I lost points in Maths, I made up in languages. We talk with Mr. Ngeera all the time on Facebook, and I still exchange novels with Mr. Marete whenever I go home for holidays.

Sorry, I never made it to a journalism class as you had wished.

 Head teachers

There is a time our school had a different head teacher every term. I don’t remember most, but it was a very unstable phase-when I was younger. The school performed very poorly-inevitably. This changed in my upper primary years. We had two headteachers:

 Mr. Meeme  did so well, all the surrounding villages sent their sons and daughters to our school, and he was poached to head Maua Primary School-where he is to date, because-it is in town and, and, as the face of the division, we want Mr. Meeme to maintain it for the visitors. How crooked is that?  Now, Mr. Meeme was a no nonsense teacher. He also used to come home and talk for hours with my grandfather-an education pioneer in the region-but would not be smiling at us in school. He had what he knew as, “Twenty Strokes of the Cane” Twitch your Chill fingers…that’s how he used to demonstrate it. He would have you hold the flag post during assembly and work on your small ass with his rapid fire cane.

 After Mr. Meeme came Mr. Mutua, commonly known as by his first name, Richard. Now, Richard was a nice man with lots of stories. He taught us Mathematics in Class 8, and oddly, I have never hated him like I hated all my Maths teachers. He had stories. And he was the sponsoring church chairman. And he was very caring.

I was crazy enough to sleep away from home on the second day of KCPE, and I came in late-who does that?- Poor Richard! I met with him at the school gate coming home to see why I wasn’t there yet. He hurriedly took me to the class, where the papers had already been handed out. He is so caring, still. We talk from time to time, and the other day, when the rogue NGO was hiring, I was on top of his list. Since retired, he is now running a school of his own and is quite successful at it.

Unbroken records

Frankmwenda Gitura Primary School classmates
Some of My classmates

We had good teachers. Teachers who had taught our parents before us, there was stability in Gitura Primary School. They produced the best class ever in the school-us, and most of them were promoted and transferred to other schools right after we left in recognition for their good work. And the school has never been the same again. It pains me that the record I set- I came in the first position-has never been beaten, so many years later. Neither for Boniface, who came second, and Lenana, who came third. The school has never beaten our mean score, and the way things are, we will hold the record for some time. I wish I could save it.

Sadly, the big class of 81 we had in Class One completed with just 23 pupils. Some repeated, some never completed. It is all good. Those that completed are doing well- we met the other day, at Eric’s funeral. We are represented in  most professions, some of us are married, with kids and I am looking for a wife. 😉

I am glad the teachers’ strike is over. But teachers deserve the highest salary affordable. It should be the best-paid profession. I am here, writing this blog because my teachers taught me. You are reading this blog because cliche as it may sound – a teacher taught you how to write. LET US PAY TEACHERS!

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