Tag Archives: countryside

In Readiness For Christmas.

Merry Christmas.

It’s about that time of the year. The time you started looking forward to from as early as the first minute of the year 2017. Time to indulge yourself in pleasantries and vices you can afford. There are those, with means, who have managed to put away some money to take their; families, lovers, besties, side chics and FWB’s for treats down to the coast or some exotic beaches and the like. Shops display products on ‘Christmas offer’. Tour and Travels firms have offers for the holiday lovers. Business is booming. All in readiness for Christmas day, it’s just A DAY – twenty four hours.

Entrance to most supermarkets and various shopping malls have someone dressed as Santa ringing a bell as he ushers in clients. Most eateries and entertainment joints are packed with most bars recording high number of patrons. The mood is set. The footloose, are travelling upcountry. Travelling to show off their ‘sophistication’ to the village folks. A few with means, fly. While majority opt for public transport, others make do with personal or leased cars. It’s time for mishpocha to be united and pass those family resolutions – like forming an association or sacco, or having an investment plan. As long as people travel back to town, all done and said is left where it belongs, in the village.

As people in towns make their preparations, we in the village too are busy. Getting ready for the BIG DAY. Ready to welcome our loved ones back home from town. Making sure the village is a ‘paradise’ for them. Comfortable by village standards. Just like in town. We the villagers meticulously plan for Christmas, and time is invested the preparations. Mostly begining from as early as mid November.

Sparking off the whole process is renovations done to the houses. The mud walls are redone. Those with grass-thatched roofs have a more tedious job of ensuring the roof is repaired just in case it has some leakages – this is the most stressful as thatching grass has since become a rare commodity. Thanks to the ever growing population. To make sure you get your grass when you need, one is forced to book in advance, as early as 4months. If you are unlucky, someone sets fire on the grass fields and that means you don’t get to repair your roof. For those lucky enough to have iron sheets, their work is simplified – they only have to worry about then earthen floor and the mud walls.

To get the walls and the floor done, patience and some hint of aggressiveness is required. This is so when you don’t have cattle in your homestead as one of the most important material is cow dung . During this season the demand is quite high, and the number of cows or bulls within a village are quite few. Not forgetting, it’s a dry season so there’s very little grass for the cattle to feed on. Yet still the entire village puts their hopes on the few underfed cattle to supply them with this precious good. Children are woken up by 6 a.m and sent with basins and sacks to the nearest home to collect the dung. Woe unto you if the home you are sent to has dogs or is gated. You have to stand by the gate until the owners are awake and the gate opened, because knocking would be so rude – some don’t mind it though.

Picture this: You are the owner of a gated home who is lucky to have some few heads of cattle. You are deep asleep, probably dreaming or maybe, just maybe, having morning glory. Somewhere in the middle you hear a knock at the gate. You try to assume it hoping it will go, or that you just imagined the rapping on the gate. The knock is persistent and there’s no sign of it going, instead it’s growing louder and bolder. You curse under your breathe and get out of bed grudgingly and walk out the house, praying it’s something worth it. You walk to the gate and on opening you are met with faces of barefoot children carrying basins and sacks. The smallest one, a boy, is standing at the front, has mucus streaming from his nostrils, he removes his tongue and licks them clean. You almost throw up . Yuck! His head patched with ringworms. He has blue t-shirt with words ‘I love Obama’. He has on a pair of torn black shorts. You take your eyes off him and study the other three. They are all scared to talk. In your mind you already know what they have come for – cow dung.

At this moment you have two choices: First, you can chose to let them inside the compound. Which means they’ll definitely be back the next day and you’ll have to sacrifice your sleep, for up to a week. Secondly, you can opt to send them away. Give them some lame excuse like your cattle have had constipation and haven’t been letting out any dung. Or that they hate being disturbed early in the morning, worse off, by kids trying to pick their dung, and that doing so would earn them deadly kicks.

In readiness for Christmas, when the houses have been redone. Some go an extra mile to put some writing on the walls – “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”. Some remember to add the words ‘WELCOME!’.

What really does wreck my heart are these ‘civilised’ guys from town. They carry with them some misplaced air of sophistication and braggadocio. They complain and compare almost everything with whatever they use in towns. Lame lines like “Mbona maji ya huku si tamu” or “Mbona huku hamtumii unga ya hostess.” While truth be told they seem to be living a desperate life in town than we do back here in the village, and the closest they have ever come to tasting the ‘unga ya hostess’ is on a tv advert. Funny enough,it could be coming from someone who grew up here in the village. Walked barefoot. Went swimming in those muddy and dung-filled streams, occasionally swallowing that unhygienic water.

We , villagers, can not go through all this pain to prepare to welcome people from town,only for them to make a bagatelle out of it. It hurts. Then as they will be leaving the village, after apopemptic speeches soaked in fairytale promises, they’ll trick us into lending them money to use as fare back. There has always been a cri de coeur about those who, after going back to town, don’t remember to clear the debts left behind, and phone calls go unanswered. What a shame!

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year.

Advertisements

How I Survived A Mob ‘Justice’.

Pickpocketing.

Is mob ‘justice’ really Justice? Is it the solution to increasing crime rate. There are situations where I would agree that it is. Like when someone is caught in the act, defiling a minor or a woman of age. I would understand when people act out of rage and beat up that savage.  But there are some instances where it becomes an injustice.A thousand people have lost their lives in the hands of mobs, a thousand innocent lives. Simply because someone suspected they had done something wrong (sometimes they didn’t really do it). They end up being beaten up, and/or burnt to their death. How people get excited by the sight of blood is something I still can’t bring myself to comprehend. Have we just become wicked or simply bloodthirsty? When a mob lynches wrongdoers, is there a difference between the people in the mob and the actual wrongdoer? I don’t think so, at the end of the day they have all committed a crime. We blame it on the laxity in our justice systems and the inefficient law enforcement apparatus, but still it doesn’t justify the need for mob lynching. Arrogating ourselves the role of the punisher, issuing instant justice is rather hypocritical of us. We have all, in one way or the other, committed certain crimes secretly and luckily got away with it, what then gives us the right to give out punishment to others? If we all had to pay for our secret crimes would there be anyone walking this earth?

That said, let me fast forward to my story…

It’s one hot and dusty evening when I walk into the countryside bus terminal (Machakos), five years ago. I was traveling back to the village from Nairobi. A stream of bus scouts kept approaching me, persuading me to go to a specific bus, others were honest enough to tell me that that’s the only way they would get their commission. But my mind was set, I had a specific bus in mind – the hottest countryside baby on the road, Destiny Coach. When I got to where it was, dressed in the latest graffiti art and neon lights, I was home. To add more life, the ticketing guy turned out to be my classmate back when we were in primary school in the village. After booking me, we talked for a while and then he advised me to get inside the bus and pick the best seat before they were all occupied.

Inside, I chose a seat in the first row next to a lady I found already seated next to a window. After assuming my position beside her, we shook hands and then I got out my  IDEOS smartphone from my pocket, plugged in it’s earphones and turned on some music. I was looking earn some points. For your information, IDEOS smartphone was an asset back then, smartphone was just hitting the Kenyan market, and being in possession of such a gadget was a plus. 

A friend of mine texts me, asking me where I was and when I told him that I had booked a bus back to the village and was leaving at 9pm. It was still some minutes past seven so he suggested we meet up in town for supper before I left. I decided why not? I requested the lady beside me to watch my space as I rushed to pick something in town. She suggested I place something to mark the seat. Since I had no bag I decided to leave my coudroy jacket behind. I walked into town and met my friend and then at around 8:30pm, he offered to walk me back to the terminal.

On reaching, the bus was not at it’s parking spot. I asked one of the scouts and he offered to take me to the clearing exit where the bus was. I bade my friend and rushed behind the scout, pressing through sweaty masses of other travellers, scouts, touts, hawkers, idlers and petty thieves. Finally, we got to the ‘baby’ and I offered twenty shillings coin to the scout and he walked away after giving me a strong handshake. I got in and walked to my seat. To my shock, it was occupied already. This lady must be so dumb, I thought to myself.

‘Hey, where’s my jacket?’ I asked dejectedly.

‘You’ll give me back my phone!’ She shot back at me.

‘Are you nuts? Where’s my jacket?’ I demanded. She didn’t bother responding to my question. She stood up from her seat. 

‘Conductor here he is!’ He called out at the front.

The intruder seated at my place remained calm. Bodies of hawkers pressed beside me as I stood in the alley. I was about to ask a third time for my jacket when someone grabbed me by the collar of my short sleeved shirt, cutting the words from my throat midway. I turned my eyes to see who the ‘joker’ was but I my eyes only met bloodshot eyes. The attempt turn my head around made my throat hurt and I felt like being cut off air. I gasped for air and returned my head to the initial position.

‘Where’s that lady’s phone?’ My captor asked. Saliva spurting out of his mouth and settling all over my face.I turned to the lady, my eyes almost popping out as I tried to get some air in and trying to speak.

‘Di…d I t…ake  your …phone?’ I managed to ask with the little breathe I could get.

‘You stole my phone and went to sell it in town!’ She shouted back.

This was the craziest thing I ever heard my all life, being accused of stealing. Stealing a phone whose price must have been a quarter of the one I owned, this ridiculous. When I left she was typing on the phone. Before I could talk, someone slapped my head from the back. Then a punch followed. My captor stillof maintained his grip and tightened it occasionally to make me confess. He tried to slap me but I blocked it before it landed on my cheeks. I was now sorrounded , shouts of ‘Thief! Thief!’ rippled in the air inside the bus. 

‘Let’s burn him’, a voice suggested. And it was chorused by the others. 

‘Burn him!’

I tried to plead with my captor that I was innocent. That I didn’t steal the phone in question. But I realised that the more I pleaded, the more guilty I looked to them. My fate was sealed.

‘We are used to you idiots. You are all always innocent. We are going to see how innocent you will after we set fire on you!’ Someone barked from behind me.

One guy ransacked my pockets and fished out my gadget and showed it to the lady if it was hers. She said no. The slaps rained on me in tandem with the questions about where the phone was. I decided to keep quiet and wait for my death. I always wondered how I would die, where and what I would be wearing on that fateful day. My guess had always been that I would die in a road accident. That day had finally come, I know knew how I was going to die. A painful and embarrassing death. I felt for my family and friends. What a shame I was going to leave them. Lynched by a mob snatching a phone. I thought of how they were going to learn about my death. An update would run under the screen of television news broadcast: A NOTORIOUS PHONE THIEF LYNCHED AT THE FAMOUS COUNTRY BUS TERMINAL! That would be me, a ‘notorious phone thief’. They would just ignore it or maybe say it deserved the thief right.

After some days when I didn’t make it home and my phone dead.A  search would ensue. Only to discover that I was the ‘phone thief’.

I thought of a scenario where the police would intervene and handcuff me to the nearest Police station…Moroto… that is less than a hundred meters from where I was facing ‘justice’. They would hold me there for a while until I bought them some ‘tea’ before they could let me go.

My stream of thoughts were interrupted by someone’s voice ordering people off the bus. My captor loosened his grip and I looked back and I recognised that face. He had been down there with my friend, the ticket guy.

‘Aren’t you a passenger in this bus?’ He asked when he got to me. I gasped for air and told him that I was.’Show me your ticket!’ He demanded, but in a soft way. I reached for my shirt pocket and luckily it was there. I showed him and then he turned to the lady who had been accusing me. I remembered my phone but I couldn’t see any of the faces who had held me captive. But that didn’t matter now, I just escaped death.