Tag Archives: Jomo Kenyatta

Heritage Series – A Wife’s Tale

The sun that had earlier kissed the slopes had progressively disappeared under the heavy clouds. Gradually chilly it had turned. It seemed like the afternoon rains which are very common in the Kenyan highlands would pour anytime.

At a corner, where two houses join, a lady sits on a stool, taking in scenery and enjoying the breeze.  Donning several sweaters, a maroon dress, a blue woolen cap which covers her white hair and she has a walking stick at her side.

Upon sighting her visitor, she bursts out laughing. “My husband, is that you or are my eyes deceiving me?” she exclaims. A hearty handshake ensues accompanied with the rhythmic vocal intonations.

She may not do it herself due to vagaries of age but just like a wife would, she asks Wairimu, her helper to get her husband a stool, take his bag and warm up a mug of uji for him. Wairimu, does all this in short order. She also introduces herself to the husband as a distant relative.

Wife and husband then proceed to catch up on ‘home’ matters. With each finding out what the other had been up to since they were last together.

Conversation drifts leisurely as the husband sips his uji. “Is it too hot? Should Wairimu bring another cup to aid you cool it?” wife soothingly asks husband.

During a lull in conversation, a cow moos at a distance. A cockerel chases two hens around the homestead. The dog, Tiger, sniffs out the visitor and attempts to play. For its efforts it earns itself a poke with the walking stick. Wairimu washes the dishes, begins preparing the evening meal and lights up the jiko.

Husband picks up the thread of conversation. He guides it to an area that had previously just been glossed over. Wife lights up like a Christmas tree. Making light work of the many decades that have passed by. Her memory razor-sharp.

She begins to coherently answer the prodding questions

When I first went to Nairobi, we lived in Majengo. This was in the late 1950s. I moved to be close to my husband. By then I had three children with the then last-born just a couple of months old. My friends in Majengo were Khadija and Fatuma. Swahili women who loved talking and cooking. They greatly improved my Kiswahili. Unfortunately once I left Nairobi, I forgot most of it.

One day a white man did allocations for houses in Bahati – a newly-constructed estate for Africans. Three families were to share one house. It was a big leap from living in Majengo. With the many constructions in Nairobi I cannot point out where the house stands now.

To eke out a living I sold vegetables in Marikiti Market. A group of us women would harvest vegetables from the banks of Nairobi River after paying for strips. The farmers were from Embu and Ndia. I do not know if they owned the land or just farmed it.

We picked the vegetables during the day, washed them until they looked very fresh, and then took them to the market at 3am. There were matatus to town. I would sell my stock and still come back and prepare breakfast for my school-going children.

My clientele at the market were mostly Asians although there was a sprinkling of white ladies. I struck up a friendship with two Asian ladies. One did not have kids. One did. She invited me to an Indian wedding. It was a great chance to sell my wares and experience the eight day ceremony.

By now I had gotten more children. I was also taking care of my nieces and nephews as well as other family’s children. To further supplement the family income I brewed flour-based African beer. I bought the flour from my Majengo friends.

Sympathetic to my large brood, the alcohol consumers made a beeline to my house every evening to partake of my brew. I sold a quart at one shilling and a pint at fifty cents.

The shadow of the white man was never far off. Several encounters spring to mind. Once I had to stand in an identification line as a betrayer picked out Mau Mau sympathizers. Off course I had taken the oath. The betrayer was fully covered. Only his eyes were visible. He did not speak. Just nodded or shook head to show who was Mau Mau. He did not pick me out.

Another time was more risky. My husband ran a charcoal business. He kept guns for Mau Mau in the sacks. The authorities suspected but never found evidence. One day there was a swoop, he was taken to a police station and almost taken to jail but luckily he was not. The sight of me with a child several days old must have softened the cops’ hearts.

Kenyatta, I cannot say I saw a lot of. Father of Odinga walked around Bahati a lot. He dressed in shorts and a Swahili cap. He seemed a brave man at ease with people.

The Independence Day was quite something! It was at that big open piece of land. What do you call it? It rained a lot. Lights were switched off. Then upon their return the white man’s flag had been brought down and Kenyatta hoisted our flag. It was the end of the white man. We were very happy.

The questions cease. Husband takes in the impromptu history lesson. Wife smiles and has a far-away look. She appears to be reminiscing. Husband is awed by how her memories tell a story of Kenya’s last 50-years.

Husband is grandson. Wife is grandmother.

Wife’s memories are her husband’s heritage. Wife’s memories are Kenya’s history.

GOD BLESS KENYA!

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Unnecessary Noise

DISCLAIMER: This post should NOT be used to attack a community or vernacular music. NOT all vernacular music is bad. NOT all members of any given community are chauvinistic and archaic in their thinking.  Any comments that are even remotely inflammatory will be deleted. Kenya is bigger than all of us!

I listen to Kikuyu music, both secular and gospel. A lot of Kikuyu music is very informative and the beat is quite catchy.

Current song I am jamming to is Agiginyani by Shiru wa GP. An awesome keep-your-head-up gospel song.

My attention has been drawn to an emerging genre of Kikuyu music  that is inflammatory, provocative and in very bad taste. In a country that is yet to heal after the post-election violence, these songs are a harbinger of bad tidings.

I shall not sit back and watch my country burn. This post is blowing the whistle. I do not know the extent of the fire that these songs have caused. What I know is the Demathew, Kamande and Muigai are some of the most popular Kikuyu musicians with mega sales of their VCDs. Thus I shudder to imagine the number of households that are playing these songs.

For the many who cannot hear Kikuyu, I have translated snippets of the songs and in Demathew’s case explained the nuances as he sings in parables. You can ask your Kikuyu friends to translate further.

Uhuru ni Witu (Uhuru is Ours) – Kamande wa Kioi

Translated snippets:

Greetings people of the house of Gikuyu and Mumbi. I bring you a message from all Kikuyu musicians. This is a message from God. Uhuru is the Moses of the Kikuyu nation. He is meant to move Kikuyus from Egypt to Canaan. Do not agree to be divided. Let all votes go to him. He is ours. He is anointed by God, poured oil on.

Raila, there is a call. Go to Mama Ngina’s house, a king has been born there. Once there ask where Uhuru is seated and pour oil on him. Just like Samuel did for David in the Bible. Stop chasing the wind Agwambo, go to Icaweri and anoint Uhuru.

You thump your chest about Hague, is Hague your mother’s? There is a curse from God. Philistines who do not circumcise cannot lead Israel. When Abraham stressed God, he was told to go get cut, even you General of Migingo, your knife is being sharpened.

Listen to the entire song  here.

Hague Bound – Muigai Wa Njoroge and Muhiko

Translated snippets:

Question: If it was you who is being pushed to The Hague what would you do?

Answer: I would call my family and divide up my property and then ask my mother to pray for me.

Question: What if you knew that Hague you are being pushed there by an uncircumcised man who wants to push you there and take over your wife and all your wealth? A man who can do anything to ensure you are in problems.

Answer: There it is better to die. Things for a man are not governed by an uncircumcised man. I would kill him. Its better they increase my charges.

Question: What would you tell your crying supporters as you are being shipped to Hague?

Answer: I would tell them to pray for me and know I am being persecuted for my love of my community.

Question: When you get to Hague how you would ensure the white man does not cheat you?

Answer: I would ask for proceedings to be done in Kikuyu.

Question: When on the dock what would you be thinking of the uncircumcised man who is the source of your predicament?

Answer: I would ask God to forgive him. I would also ask that he gets circumcised so that he matures mentally. I would also ask Kenyans to be very wary of that man.

Listen to entire song here.

Mwaka wa hiti (The year of the hyena) – Demathew

Translated and explained snippets:

As Demathew I prophesize and let the stones hear me if men wont.

It is now the year of the hyena. Who will teach you and your ears are blocked?

When a man is seated he sees further than a boy on top of a tree.

You are like a greedy hyena seeing a man walk and following him hoping that his arm will drop off. You follow him till he boards the train and the arm does not drop and you never eat. (A reference to all that may benefit from ICC)

Before Jesus was crucified He stood in the court Judge Pilato and he answered all questions, Judge Pilato said Jesus is free but the crowd asked that a thief be freed instead. (ICC will show Uhuru’s innocence)

Where are you (Peter Kenneth) from? If you were one of us, you would be pained by the people burnt in Kiambaa church. My brother lost his property in Kisumu, how can you tell us he (Raila) is our community’s friend.

Father (Jomo Kenyatta) I feel sad when I see your son (Uhuru) being persecuted by men of ill-will and a woman (Martha Karua) is carrying their bags.

In-law (Kalonzo) things are not going well for you now. You are clueless and your matters are now being discussed by women in the market. But I still remember how you saved me (after 2007 elections) when leopards had attacked me.

Listen to the entire song here.

After listening to these three songs I shuddered. If the leading lights of Kikuyu music are doing this, then how much more prevalent is it? Are other communities also producing such inciteful vernacular songs? This is a ticking time bomb right under our noses!

Let us think of how to put out this fire before it is too late!

PRAY FOR KENYA!

GOD BLESS KENYA!

 


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