VENDATA: NAIROBI CITY
By: Melting Ice Towers | Sunday 22nd January |8:56pm |
[The ‘Shamba’ Boy Chronicles Episode 1]
I gladly alighted from the ‘pimped’ dark blue ‘Nuclear Sacco’ matatu that ferried passengers from a certain interior part of Central Province to the famed Nairobi City. This was my first visit to the city. Before then, I had preconceived notions about the city. It was a place of wonder ranging from:- exquisite fun, tall buildings, underground roads I hear in Thika Road,topless women who walk like they own the city and the most derogatory people of all time, the pickpockets! I wanted to see all the kind of things I have been hearing from my grandma’s torch-radio.
I was a 22-year-old jobless man who did not have a chance to study as my fellow village herdsmen and quarry men since my childhood. Life had hit me so hard in the village until my mum sent me here for a survival mission. I will tell you more about the mission later. My mum advised me just before I left home to at least present myself as familiar to the city lets people would take advantage of me. I was 23 but I was a mama’s boy. Am proud of that. She had been my only parent for 23 good years.
As I was busy staring at the ‘Maathai’ Supermarket Banner on the retail business building, I remembered I had some luggage inside the ‘matatu’. It was a sack of potatoes and a 50 kg bag full of dried maize. Ugali was my favorite meal. I would eat it with anything including water or just like that. I hurriedly walked at the back of the matatu and met the matatu ‘boot’ closed. I quickly opened it and checked my luggage. It was notinside.
Just as I was calculating my moves on what to do next, someone talked from behind
‘Unaenda wapi?’ (Where are you going?)
I looked at him. He was a slim stern-looking young man complemented with inappropriate facial contours. He seemed to have survived numerous gang fights. I was afraid at first. What got my attention was my luggage. The man had sampled my luggage and put them on his ‘mkokoteni’ (carrier).
‘Where the hell did he think he was going with my sacks?’ I thought.
I roughly removed my luggage from his ‘mkokoteni’ and pulled them to a certain dusty corridor just next to a closed shop entrance. I had been offended. ‘Is this how Nairobians’ work?’ I asked myself. I gazed at him again. He looked like one of the pickpockets.I sat my bottom halfway on my potatoes and halfway on the bag of maize. I had to be extra careful. This was my only meal. The ‘mkokoteni’ guy looked at me and laughed. He laughed so wildly and loudly such that he made me look foolish. I felt irritated.
‘He has noticed am not familiar with this place. He knows am not a resident’ I told myself. He had made me look like a mad man who had escaped from an asylum.
I could not stand anymore of his laugh. I quickly got up and rushed towards him. I held his dark sweaty neck so tight such that if I was to dislocate his right and left sternocleidomastoid muscles of his feeble neck, it could not be rocket science. I would totally jeopardize the man in him. Never have I ever allowed someone to make a monkey out of myself.
Just then, his fellow ‘mkokoteni’ guys started walking towards me. They were around six. I turned my head sideways and saw the anonymous people congregating around us to watch a free show. Say ‘John Cena’ and the ‘Big Show’! I smelt a dead rat; something could go wrong here any minute. I thought so. I hurriedly released the guy and walked back to my usual sacks. I sat on them as I had previously done. My mum had briefed me of such people who would steal my luggage earlier. I was 100% prepared for such people. I had a big stature and back in the village, I had wrestled many young energetic men. I felt so powered to fight anything that could interrupt my way.
My sister Anna was to pick me up from the ‘Nyamakima’ Stage and take me to her home in South B. I only heard of the place on my mum’s lips as she told me the places in Nairobi. When she talked of Nairobi, I was so eager to listen to her even more than the work she had assigned me to do. I wondered what the ‘B’ in ‘South B’ meant.
I had to call my sister. I had donned two trousers. The inner trouser had my cash and my phone while the outer one had a list of destinations and hotlines in case I got lost. I threw sweeping looks around and using my right hand, I dug dip inside my outer trouser when no one was glaring at me. I removed my phone. I looked around once again just to make sure no one had seeing me inserting my hands around the obvious obscene areas.
It was a smartphone,a brand new Samsung galaxy mini that I had almost worked to death on a quarry for days to bag it. I switched it ON slowly as I threw stern eye looks on the women who were standing beside me. The most lethal words my mum kept throwing on me every now and then days before I packed my clothes for Nairobi was WOMEN. She warned me to control my hyena appetite lest they would destroy the man in me. I trusted her. I rushed through my contacts list and dialed my sister’s number. I slowly put the phone on my right ear and held it with both hands as I threw sweeping looks around me.
Her number was unreachable. I dialed repeatedly. She was unreachable.
I did not know where South B was nor the Stage where I would get the ‘matatu’. I gazed at the ‘mkokoteni’ guy I assaulted once again. He seemed to have the knowledge about the town.
I asked him,
‘Brathee stage ya South B iko? Pole kwa kukushikanisha ivo.’
(‘Brother, where is the stage to South B? Sorry for mishandling you like that earlier’)
‘Ntakufikisha hapo. Tumzigo ni soo mbili tu’
(‘I will take you there. Carrying the luggage will cost Ksh. 200’)
Holy Cow! My eyebrows rose beyond their usual extents. The skin that covered my brow curled into trenches. My fingers clenched. I flashbacked of how my mum had told me about being conned and I realized I was facing one dangerous con man.
I looked at his ‘mkokoteni’ again. It looked so old that I even wondered whether it would carry my good to the destined location.
‘Aty 200? Kwani ‘mkokoteni’ inatumia mafuta?’
(Ksh. 200? Does your carrier use fuel?’)
I left him dumbfounded while standing erect as a flag post. I was flabbergasted for real. It was getting late. I did not want the sun to sink in the west before I took a selfies in Nairobi City. I was soo delighted. I took my smartphone and kept it in front of me. I carefully ensured that even my sacks of potatoes were captured on the selfies as I faked a very big smile to prove I was soo happy in Nairobi. I instantly posted on Facebook and instagram with the hash tags #nairobiHEREicome #NairobiManenos #fromshags. I even did not have followers or much of friends on Facebook. Nevertheless, that was not a big issue for me. The big thing was that I had added my first ever pic while in the only city in Kenya.
I knew great fun waited me on arrival to my sister’s place. She was a binge ‘Boozer’ and I guzzled booze by the barrel back in the village. That would be a perfect match for a single night at the club. She had the cash and I had my way to helping her spend it.
As strong as I was, I could not allow someone to charge me Ksh. 200 for something that I would carry. I slowly lifted the potato sack and placed it strategically on my shoulders balancing it with my body weight. Using my right hand, I picked my other bag of maize and started walking towards a destination that I did not know. However, I was fully positive of my acts. I remembered my mother’s words; she had informed me to look like I know the place lest people would take advantage of me. I did not want to look stupid. I followed the main road. Different human beings ranging from men, women and children would look at me shocked in disbelief as they imagined the weight I was carrying without halting. I would smile aimlessly at those Nairobi Ladies who stared at me with their exposed cleavages and thighs wishing I would bag one for the night. Too bad, any thought of a lady could be countered with my mamas warning about women.
Suddenly, I approached a matatu stage which had a number of cars lined up in a single profile. The touts were busy shouting at the top of their voices, ‘kayole! Kayole, Kayole!’ (Kayole is a name of a destination in Nairobi) the touts could not even wait for me to arrive at the place; they quickly took my luggage and started pushing me towards different directions. Each wanted me to enter inside their car. They were pushing me this way and that way. I suddenly, released myself from them roughly and put my luggage on the dusty pavement. None of them could dare come again to push me inside one of their ‘matatu’. They had felt the strength in my body.
‘Gary za south B ziko wapi?’ (Where are the vehicles that take people to south B located?)
One of the conductors (tout) who seemed to be a bit red eyed looked at me and responded slowly
‘Ni hizi buda. Ukifika Kayole, Panda Pikipiki hadi South B’ (this is the matatu. When you arrive at Kayole, Take a motorbike until south B)
At first, I doubted but I did not give it a thought. I quickly put my luggage in place and boarded the matatu. I saw the touts’ gang up together and laughed hysterically as if they were discussing my outfit. I gazed at my clothes and assured myself that I was okay.
30 minutes later, we were still there. The matatu was not full. I wondered. I later realized that some street children are paid Ksh. 20 or ksh. 10 to seat on a matatu to con would-be passengers that the matatu was almost full, only to get out after sometime. I felt so bad about that but what could I think anymore, I was in Nairobi.
The ‘matatu’ was full and the reggae music was booming soo high. This was my type of driver. I could not imagine the sound of the same reggae music on my grandma’s torch radio!
Keep close to Read: [SHAMBA BOY CHRONICLES PART TWO]