FRANKMWENDA

The Writing of my Place in History

Baite Inside! Yes, I am a Meru!


Meru Boy chewing miraa

A few weeks ago, I was lazily scrolling my Facebook when I saw a beauty. Some of you will call me a fisi, but males are supposed to “see” beautiful females, right?  I see them a lot. But this one caught my eye. She was beautiful. I just like such photos. But I commented on this. See, she was wearing a tee shirt that resonated with me. It had this message that I had seen before but, frankly, hadn’t given much thought: Baite Inside: Proud to be Meru. A few inbox messages later, I called up Ivy, who happens to have a very callable voice, and we struck a deal. I wanted my tee shirt delivered to me in diaspora!

A day later, my shipment arrived, complete with a complimentary CD-of a collection of some of the best Meru hit songs. It is a black cotton Baite Inside tee which is as comfortable as it is head turning. She has a whole line in several designs and messages and they are too cool to be missing in your wardrobe. Stay with me, I will tell you how you can get them.

 

Baite Inside t-shirt and Meru songs
This is the package

This t-shirt is not a fashion statement for me. This is a memoir. A constant reminder of who I am, and where I come from. Remember, it is okay to be aware and proud of your tribe without despising other tribes. It is okay to celebrate your music(or lack of it), your customs, your history, your beliefs, your politics, your financial activities, and basically, who you are.

I will close my eyes down this roller coaster:

Once upon a time, a community was slave to another community that wore red clothes(Nguu Ntune) that lived in Mbwaa the. They suffered so much, they needed to escape. So, led by their god-chosen leader, they went to the master king and demanded freedom. They needed to move. Since their labour was needed, the king adamantly refused to let them leave. He put them under hard tests with a promise to let them leave if they passed the impossible tasks. This community was so bright,they managed every time, but the master king wouldn’t let them leave. So, one night, they escaped Mbwaa, but came across a Red Sea(Îria Îtune). They panicked. The master community was closing in on them fast. The gods instructed the community leader to strike the Water with his stick, and guess what-the water parted! They crossed, walked through deserts and eventually reached the land of milk and honey, around the center of Kenya.

Sounds familiar, right? Yes, from the Bible. But this story had been told even before Bibles came to Kenya. This is the story of the Meru! See, we are like Israel. There is a place in Meru where Jesus walked. We have footprints to show! Do I sound proud enough, or should I up my game?

 

Njagi Junkie Jesus footsteps Meru
via: @njagijunkie

Yes! I am a Meru

Yes. I am a Meru. I am as arrogant as Prof. Kaimenyi. I don’t have to listen to what you have to say because where I come from, men are automatically what psychology calls Assertive Sanguines. I am not sure that exists but hey! It exists because I said so. It is, in reality, not arrogance, but sheer self belief. I am an alpha.

Yes, I am a Meru. I speak loudly. You may have your ears close but I will shout into them. I shout into the phone and I shout my whispers. Why? The point above. Self-belief! And then I don’t like repeating myself. Once I tell you something, I have to make sure it is loud and clear. Especially loud.

Yes, I am a Meru. I am hot tempered and I can cut you into pieces at the slightest provocation. Sorry, remove the “cut you into pieces”. We don’t cut people to kill, we cut people to teach them a lesson. We will cut your hand for stealing miraa(not food). Your face for grabbing someone’s wife. Your leg for trespassing. We will never cut you to steal your livestock. Or because some politician didn’t win an election. Or because you are from another tribe. We will cut you to discipline you, and take you to hospital afterwards. We are peaceful people.

 

Miraa farm in Meru
Money on a tree. Hands up if you have ever seen a miraa tree

Choose your punishment

Speaking of discipline, a man from Laare (google that) caught a thief stealing his miraa. Ili liwe funzo kwako na wengine kama wewe, he generously gave him four options:
  • Wear gumboots filled with boiling porridge.
  • Get his left hand cut off.
  • Eat a bowl of latrine soup. That is, the smudge: combination of shit, pee and worms fetched from a pit latrine. Worse than sewage.
  • Eat a live chameleon. (Those things are as creepy as they are poisonous).

What would you have chosen?

Yes. I am a Meru. I live on a herb. Miraa! My father built our home strictly with miraa money. I was educated using miraa money. I am building a house using miraa money and I will take my children to school using miraa money. Our churches, schools, community health centers are built and run using miraa money. And yes, we meet every evening to chew the holy herb. We chew and tell stories, dreams, visions- miraa is eye opening- and then go home and perform our “family duties” exquisitely. And it is true, miraa is a drug…. just like coffee, tea and Panadol!

Yes. I am a Meru. We have beautiful, humble, intelligent, hardworking women. Our women let us the men run affairs like the Bible wants women to be. They take up the role of the neck nicely. They support us (also hardworking) men wholly. They leave the responsibility of, say, cutting, to men. They don’t cut men’s transformers like some people we know. And men, even in all the cutting skills, will never cut their women. Who cuts a good thing? If a woman wrongs a man,which is rare, the discipline is meted by the man’s woman: wife, sister, mother or cousin. We don’t fight our women! We went to Beijing.

 

Ivy
Soni: via Ivy

I am talented but I won’t show.

Yes, I am a Meru. I can’t sing, I can’t dance, I can’t act, I can’t play any professional game. I don’t seem to represent Kenya anywhere. But that’s just me. There are 4 Kimeru radio stations and 2 TV stations playing 80% Kimeru content. We do sing(btw, who was that Meru guy singing in Churchill Show with Ali Kiba the other day?) We have comedians commanding the industry. We just don’t shout about it, and it is a good joke, anyway, when people say we can’t do all these things. We just don’t, because we have better things to do than cry on stage or play like children.

On a serious matter of Life and Death: You must visit Meru county. You must visit the wildlife conservancies ….experience the Meru hospitality in the hotels, streets, markets…. Get Grade 1 farm produce straight from the farm(money being the root of all evil, we will sell to you at almost-free prices)….. Awe and smiles are infectious in Meru..and please don’t forget to catch the enviable Amerucan accent!

Yes. I am a Meru. I stop when I want, and I am done with this story. You can share your Meru experiences in the comment box below.

Let’s now talk about Ivy, the Kamanu Entertainment and the ensemble. Call Ivy on +254724398865 or catch up with her on Facebook. Tell her I sent you, and make demands, like you want a CD as well, and you want her to deliver personally. She may send me a free hood if you buy. It’s totally worth memoir, no matter where you are from. And, oh, I am not sure if Ivy is married.

Here is part of the collection:

 

All these messages can be replicated to any of the designs. You get to choose your message, and the design!

ION: I want to join the Njuri Ncheke. Does anyone know how?


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8 Comments

  1. Yes I have met the amazing brand ambassador for Meru by the name IVY. And surely she did deliver for me a beautiful tee.

  2. Yeah, Boniface. Ivy is good. Don't you also want to marry her? 🙂

  3. Love your Meru pride and spirit! But for clarity purposes, Kamanu and Ivy are no longer authorized to print, distribute or promote the Baite Inside merchardise. Its an indepedent brand ran by the Official Meru Community if Facebook for social benefit

    • FRANKKENYAN

      Thanks for reading, Njuuri Ncheke. What does this group do? Sounds like a noble gig. noted on the brand.

  4. Ivy Kaburu

    Dear Njuri,
    Yes it is true we nolonger produce the brand Baite inside.
    The blog was first posted mid 2015 and we do appreciate the writer’s love and appreciation for the Meru culture.
    We have a collection of exciting brands….
    Available on BaiteWare on Facebook and Instagram.
    You can also contact us anytime on 0724398865.

  5. dkabutei

    They should visit and catch the accent. So strong it could build the somalia-kenya boarder wall.Aand yes we carry a tune. You dont want to hear a native sing along a number. The wall will crumble.

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