Posts Tagged ‘Uganda’

NJORO

Posted: October 29, 2015 by ketihapa in Africa, Drama
Tags: , , ,

Welcome to Nairobi, Sir.

(Written by Ketihapa, Troy Onyango and Nick Muthumbi)

The vehicle comes to a grinding halt as the conductor says, “Mwisho! Huku ndio Nairobi.” Other passengers start rising from their seats; he is patient. He waits till they are almost all out then he stands up and makes his way towards the door, his bag with a few clothes he brought along with him his only luggage. Once out, he takes a moment to take in the scenery; it is nothing like he had expected. He had expected to see elegant sky scrapers towering over him, beautiful women wearing things they call fashion that his grandmother could sew in an hour, men in suits, flashy cars, fancy hotels… Instead, the place is muddy and dirty, garbage strewn all over. There is an acrid smell- one he can’t quite figure out- a mixture of fish, garbage, piss, excrement, sweat. He wants to throw up. He calms down. He is clearly a stranger in Nairobi; anyone can see that without trying too hard. He feels for his pocket; good, the little money he has left is still there. Now, he has to trace his uncle Mwaura whom he hopes he can stay with for a while before he has figured out where to get a job. He takes a step forward, then another into the green city in the sun.

He stands there for a while and uses his eyes to take everything in. The dusty air fills his lungs and a whiff of sweat from the burly man walking past him jolts him back to reality. He focuses and sees a large crowd gathered in front of a cream old building. Bag firmly clasped in his hand, he moves towards the crowd. The man at the centre of the crowd who is talking loudly in a raspy voice notices him and pushes toward him. His legs feel wobbly before he notices the smile plastered on the round face of the man. He moves closer to him until he can feel the man’s breath of sour milk down the nape of his neck. He does no turn around to look at the man standing behind him and he notices the bible in his hand. This must be a good man, he thinks to himself. The whole crowd turns to face him and that’s when he realizes all attention is on him. After a long stare, the man opens his mouth and amidst the stench of a mouth long divorced to the toothbrush he speaks, words that sound like they are carved in stone

“Bwana asifiwe!” His voice reverberates through the hot air and his whole frame moves in tandem with his words.

“Amen!” Meekly he responds in unison with the elated crowd.

“Wewe ni mgeni hapa Nairobi, si ndio?”

Unsure, he responds, “Dio.”

“Na umekuja huku kazi?”

How did he know that I have come to Nairobi to look for work?

Before he responds, the preacher man’s voice rises again, “Mungu amenionyesha ya kwamba unaenda kuishi na mjomba wako.”

This must be a real man of God. How else would he know that I am going to live with my Uncle?

“Dio.” He tells the man.

“Mungu ameniambia nisipokuombea mabaya yatakutendekea. Unaamini?”

He doesn’t know the response to this question and so he nods slightly.

“Haya basi piga magoti tuombe.”

He doesn’t hesitate for a minute and as soon as his knees meet the dusty ground he closes his eyes shut. His grasp on the bag more firm than ever. That’s where all the money and his certificates are. If he loses that he loses everything.

The crowd bursts into a frenzy of song with the man’s voice still rising above the rest as he chants prayers on his behalf. He screeches at the demons and casts them away. Njoro feels the demons depart from his body and they sap his power and he falls to the ground. The preacher’s voice fades and soon it becomes so distant he can barely hear the once thunderous voice. He is in heaven.

He opens his eyes to the sound of feet hurriedly passing by and the rowdy touts shouting their various destinations. The singing crowd is no longer there and the preacher too is nowhere in sight. He feels dizzy and turns to look for his bag.

But it is nowhere to be found. The old Daso Rano bag that his dad had bought him while he was being admitted to high school was at large. And in that bag were his miniscule belongings. The crème de la crème of whatever he called his. Plus the meagre cash he had saved. It was all gone.

He panics. The world starts spinning. But he is shoved out of the stupor by the sharp pain caused by a shoe that had fallen in love with his pinkie finger. Amidst the best of curse words he can summon, he sits up trying to recall what really happened. But all he can remember is kneeling before a man of the robe moments before he floated to heaven.

But how did I end up here? Well, maybe I forgot my bag in heaven.

He comforts himself as he looks around in a bid to familiarise himself with his surroundings.

Then he spots a man in grey uniform swinging his baton across the street. For some reason the grey uniform seems familiar and so he feels it will be better and safer to ask for help from him unlike the rest of the Nairobi busy bodies who walked past him, pretty oblivious of his existence.

As he picks himself from the dusty street pathway that had played bed for the past couple of minutes, he feels something bitter well up his gut. With little hesitation he spits the bitter saliva onto the pavement.

As soon as the spit makes contact with the ground, the “friendly” across the street is already tugging at the worn out generic leather belt holding his Kaunda pants in place.

“Kijana unatema mate ovyo ovyo kwa nini? Uko na mimba?” asks the man in grey.

Njoro is caught off guard. Since when did lubricating the earth with oral liquids become an offence?

“Ahhh! Habali blatha. Kwani kuna chida nikitema mate?” he asks meekly, rocking that sheepish signature smile of his, the smile that he used to nail ladies back in the village, with an accent heavily influenced by his mother tongue.

The smile seems to offend the officer even more.

“Nikitaka kuona meno zina matope nitakwambia! Kwa nini unatema mate?!”

Taken aback, he wishes he had a mirror; Njoro knows his teeth are perfect- hell, half the ladies back in the village wishe they had his teeth. His teeth are a blend of white and brown- not yellow from all that green stuff his peers have been chewing of late to seem cool- and not too white as to get confused with those of that Mzungu that tried to lure him to her bed a few weeks ago. God, she was old!!! And her sense of shame was like that of a toddler.

“Apana, nimekuja Nairobi leo, ata dio nimefika… lakini kuna vubi mingi sana. Ata ukaweza nisaidia na ten bob naweza nunua maji kidogo  niweze kuosha mdomo kidogo nitashukulu sana!”

The man in grey laughs.

“Ati ten bob!” Ten bob ata kucha haiwezi nunua kijana! Kwani umetoka Uganda?”

Wait, ten bob cant get me water? He asks himself. But then again, his grandpa told him Nairobi is full of conmen… His train of thought is interrupted by the man in grey, who has by now magically summoned an old white pick up… there are about half a dozen other people in it.

“Leta chai!”

“Chai nilimariza kitabo. Irikuwa kwa chupa kwa ire bag imeibiwa! Huwezi nisaidia?”

“Kijana wacha nione vile nitakusaidia. Ingia kwa gari.”

“Asante sana! Wewe dio mtu wa kwanza nimepata mzuri Nairobi. Hii lift unanipea itanisaidia sana!!! Natafuta uncle yangu!”

Half the people in the pick up laugh, the other half are not sure whether to explain to Njoro that he’s just been arrested or to pity him or to laugh or cry on his behalf. The man in grey is laughing as well. Nonetheless, Njoro gets into the truck; he says hi to all of them, and they all say hi, most of them cant avoid laughing though. Someone creates some space for him to sit on the hard bench.

“Uko tu sawa brathe,” he says, putting his arm around him, a hint of a hopeful smile on his face. “Labda watatuweka cell moja!” Njoro has founda friend in the big city finally!

“Ata mimi blatha, naoba watueke pamoja tujuane saidi.”

This time the guy definitely smiles. A hint of a boner… Njoro doesn’t see it…

After what seems like half an hour, collecting other people in need of lifts as well, they finally arrive at the destination. The sign on the building reads “City Hall”. Njoro and his new friend are ushered out of the vehicle into the building. His new ‘friend tries to reassure him they will be okay as long as they are together. After all, they will have more time to know each other. Njoro still has no clue he has been arrested for spitting and what will later turn out to be gross destruction of the environment by bodily fluids.

It finally dawns on him when the man in grey responsible for his ‘lift’ says, pointing at him,“Mwas leo nimepata fala fulani! Hehehe aAti anadhani tulikuwa tunampea lift!”

But when the man turns it is almost unbelievable.  There stands Njoro’s uncle! Mwaura in the flesh!

“Ndiye huyu fala unasema!?”

He knew his uncle was an important man in Nairobi, just not this important…

That Girl…. 🙂

Recently, my girl and I have been fighting. (Not physically, we are both tiny and physically incapable of doing any real damage to each other, never mind that we are both from Nyeri.) You see, Ivy, that is her name, is independent and very lovable. She always has been. She is, in my opinion, the epitome of a goddess. She is tall, slim (her arms look smaller than any Kisii man’s plate of ugali.) and she has this awesome smile that could make you fall in love with her in an instant. Then there is the way she laughs you could swear her laugh will be on the playlist in Heaven. She is a lightskin but she can make you an awesome stew of beef (don’t trust her sausages tho) while at the same time making you question what you ever did to God to deserve her. They say that the easiest and shortest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but I could swear Ivy is the shortest way to my heart. Sorry ladies.

Anyway, the whole reason we have been fighting is because she got a job in Uganda, Kampala to be precise, and God knows we were unprepared for it- almost like a scary pregnancy. She got a job at one of the most awesome places I can think of and I don’t think I need to mention that her job is more awesome than the boob job the Kardashian family invested in- Kanye West will understand what I mean. She gets to meet all these great people, and her boss pays her to convince them that they are awesome people. I know, right? Her boss basically pays her to have fun and get free drinks. I envy her all day (I know you do too) but as an engineer, naah. My job is better. At least I get to meet old people and hope I will age more graciously.

So, you can imagine my dilemma when she tried to convince me to ignore my(awesome) job and travel to Uganda. In short, a perfect Texas (or Mexican, if you watch Citizen TV) standoff.

In my mind, I knew Uganda was horrible. All 3 people-including ivy- that can speak English can attest to that. First, they call their matatus taxis, and their banks make you feel like a millionaire when in essence you are a hundred-nare back here in Kenya. They make you have Matoke with everything except sex (thank God) and their bodaboda drivers insist you use a helmet. Plus they could turn you into an alcoholic in a few hours. Tusker is Ksh. 83 for crying out loud.

Eventually tho, she won. And I had to take a 13 hour bus to Kampala. I have to tell you at this point that if you are the sort of person that has to pee every 30 minutes, Kampala is not for you. And the bus does NOT have a toilet on board.And you cannot make the driver stop because he is NOT your girlfriend. Let us just say that I am not a bus person. Anyway, I did get to Kampala ok eventually. It was like nothing I had imagined. (The accent is still a load of nonsense, and apparently we have a Kenyan accent, but…) and then their bands are so epic, they can make dancehall music (or riddims if you are from Kayole) sound heavenly. The women are so polite and respectful; you ask yourself why you were born Kenyan. And their policemen actually shake your hand without expecting Ksh. 50 from you.

I should just say that I had enough fun for years thanks to Michelle and Phill. Ivy will want a mention too so I should tell her thank you at this point.

 

Now, fast forward to yesterday, when I left Uganda. The journey was okay up and until we got to Busia and crossed over to the Kenyan side. Bribes for luggage. Luggage that was so tiny I felt I could have sneaked it in my underwear- NOT condoms. An hour later, the price went up from 3000 to 5000, simply because it got very sunny and someone needed an appeasement bottle of alcohol. And the girl being taken advantage of was from Denmark hence could not really understand Kiswahili. So we refused to let her pay and threatened to get off the bus if they made her pay and to carry the corrupt official from KRA to the police station.

Eventually, I think he realized had more to lose than actually losing the 5000. So we proceeded on our way towards Nairobi. We had won. But it did make me question why Kenyans tolerate corruption when it was pretty obvious nobody liked it. I still can’t understand. May be you people can help me understand.

 

Sam Childers, the real Machine Gun Preacher, whose character is played by Gerard Butler in the 2011 film, The Machine Gun Preacher.

The baby wasn’t so ugly that both his parents feared to show up for his birth. He wasn’t deformed either. With every fiber of her being, the new mother lifted up her newborn baby and said a quick thank you to her God for the boy before she passed out from exhaustion. In the years that followed, the young boy was perceived as a blessing; he truly had a bright future laid out for him. Both his father and mother were farmers in the little Ugandan village of Odek, but that didn’t stop him from dreaming of great heights. He wasn’t the typical classroom genius per se; in fact, he was more popular for his humor and excellent dancing skills. And his dark side.

The boy slowly gained a reputation as a violent but charismatic person, who could use his tongue to sway the masses. Sooner or later, he expressed his desire to be a leader and the easiest way to do that would entail a little more training. He enrolled as an apprentice for a witch doctor and his mentor was none other than his brother. Then disaster struck when his fellow tribesman was ousted from the presidency by an aspiring Ugandan called Museveni and his aunt Alice Auma a.k.a. Lakwena , who led an occult neo-political movement known as the Holy Spirit Movement, was killed in a protest against the new government.

His life was never the same. He soon declared himself a prophet of his people and he built upon his aunt’s former movement to come up with his own in a bid to regain control of a world that was fast spinning away. Once a naïve boy and now a full grown man, he found himself the center of attention and it wasn’t long before his movement was outlawed when he started hitting back at the government. He turned against his people and began raiding them when he realized the declining state of the resources at his disposal. His people, the Acholi, turned against him in bitter and equal response.

A few months later, he claimed the Spirit of the Lord spoke to him in his dreams and ordered him to kill people and marry 88 wives. Yes, kill people who stand in your way, including those that eat and rear pork. Also, rape the women and force them into prostitution. If you can’t convince them, confuse them; he brainwashed people with his ideals and they followed him. He started raiding villages on a large scale, the beautiful women he took for his own, while the ugly ones were shit out of luck. Those were either killed or forced to be his prostitutes. The kids, he had other plans for. The girls were sold off as sex slaves while the boys, he handed Kalashnikovs, rather, AK 47s. His newly recruited soldiers, the young boys, he sprinkled holy water on to convince them of divine protection from bullets.

That man, if you still have no idea who I’m talking about, is Joseph Rao Kony, one of the ICC’s most wanted criminals responsible for abduction of 104,000 children, displacement of over 2,000,000 people and the cold murder of about 1000 people per week. He is the outlaw the USA has used to invade Uganda on the premise of humanitarian aid. And the movement he formed is now the terror group known to many as the Lord’s Resistance Army. Most importantly, he is villain in the movie, the Machine Gun Preacher, a movie based on true events that tells the story of a criminal who is turned into a preacher who devotes his life to protecting and rescuing young African kids from people like Kony.

A long, fairly intense movie if you ask me, although  the Machine Gun Preacher doesn’t contain lots of computer enhanced grotesque images like its counterparts ‘Hotel Rwanda’ and the original ‘The Exorcist’- the one shot in Kenya. No, it builds its plot from empathizing with kids who have lost everything who look up to a former convict for hope in a land where chances of dying from a land mine explosion are higher than chances of dying from AIDS. It is in fact based on the true story of Sam Childers, a man who fought Kony without ever actually having met him. For me, the kid that had to kill his mother to save his little brother before being abducted to serve as a child soldier did it for me.

For those that haven’t watched it, I’d hate to be a party pooper so I will not ruin it for you. That is hardly my style. On the whole, the movie tells of a man who is released from prison and is faced with the daunting task of rebuilding his family; he is married to Lynn, a former stripper, with whom he has a young daughter but his care-free thug life and drug addiction are his biggest challenges. All this changes when he coldly murders a man, no, slaughters a man and he finds himself pulled closer to God courtesy of his conscience. On a voluntary trip to South Sudan, he encounters pain and terror first hand, especially when he witnesses a young boy blown to bits by a land mine. On realizing his calling is here, he starts a church back home and an orphanage in war-torn Sudan for the kids he intends to rescue from Kony’s grip with the help of a handful Army Officers on his payroll. It earns him a visit by the late Dr. John Garang and eventually, a handsome bounty on his head offered by Kony.

This isn’t deja moo; no you haven’t heard this bull before. I may not envy fatherhood, but that movie made me realize I love kids; it depresses me to watch kids suffer or know that they will never get the same opportunities afforded to me by God through my parents. Sometimes I’ll walk through the streets and see a kid in dirty, badly stitched remnants of clothes with a bottle of glue on his mouth and it will take every fiber of my being not to do anything. Deep down, I want to walk over, lift him up, get him cleaned him up, buy him food, take him for a medical checkup then put him in school so as to give him a decent chance of making something of his life; but I don’t. I hope somebody who sees the situation as I do and has the resources to do it does what I cannot do.

The real question is what can or have you done to make a difference? For my part, I will devote a day per month to visit a children’s home and anyone of you reading this is and wants to tag along, please feel free. No matter how much the cost of living goes up, life will always remain popular, even to those kids that struggle to make it through life without the support or guardianship of an adult. The least we can do is making it a worthwhile experience for them. I have accrued enough bad experiences arising from multiple bad judgments to know that for once, I will be doing the right thing. To those that think it is a waste of time, please support bacteria; I fear it may be the only culture people like you and Kony have.

(Watch Video below on Sam Childers)