By Maddo Ochieng’
By Maddo Ochieng’
Without mincing words, I detest people who come in the way of reforms, like Mr Gaitho, my bespectacled and heavily bearded landlord, who has been whispered to be dealing in very strong narcotics. Recently, I heard rumours that he wants to become governor. I am totally opposed to his bid, and now I want to spill beans over his ties with mercenaries. For the period I have known this man as his tenant, I can convince you that he should not become governor.
Everyone in Kayole knows that I have been a strong proponent of change all my life, provided those changes do not impact negatively on alcohol. When a piece of legislation was signed into law by the relevant authority—legalising traditional versions of the beverage I can’t live without—I celebrated in style at Dina’s Pub, by swallowing them in excess until I had to spend the night inside a gutter somewhere between Nyando and Kioi stages in Kayole.
As a rights activist, my immense contribution in the alcohol agitation scene speaks for itself. My political ideology is Marxist, and execution formula, tactics and machinations is Machiavellian. I have in the past successfully defended my own rights whenever my drinking habit came under scathing attacks from my wife, Sabina and my pastor, Solomon.
Back to Mr Gaitho, during the much publicised red and green constitutional campaigns, Mr Gaitho was at first a fence-sitter. He has been known to be non-committal on issues, yet he extends underground hands in everything. That is how he managed to acquire his Gaitho Plaza where I reside. Mr Githo later metamorphosed into a full-fledged water melon. From there he went red before finally turning green, but with a very foolish argument that he decided to support the new constitution simply because Jonathan, his fellow landlord and great friend, was also green. The flamboyant Jonathan clinched a gubernatorial seat in the last election. Such silly and flimsy reasoning by Mr Gaitho really corroded my intestines but I had to restrain myself from insulting his uneducated head because I owed him a fortune in the form of rent for the nine by nine habitat accommodating Sabina, our pair of twins and I.
Speaking of rent, Mr Gaitho’s manner of handling this contentious issue should be investigated. He is extremely corrupt and inhuman. To the best of my knowledge, Susana, my neighbour whose door is opposite ours, owes him rent in arrears dating back to last year. But Mr Gaitho and Susana are still best of friends. Quite often I hear his unmistakable raucous cough inside Susana’s bedroom when I return to Gaitho Plaza beyond Mututho hours. On realising that he is around, I forget that I am drunk and tactfully tiptoe, weaving my way between the water containers littering the narrow corridor until I disappear into my cubicle like a ghost. Because of this kind of behaviour, Mr Gaitho planned to have me taught some discipline last month.
For dodging to pay him rent for only six months, Mr Gaitho had the audacity to hire two mercenaries to attack me on my way home. I was staggering from Dina’s Place with a lot of confidence at dusk, oblivious of the looming danger ahead. Suddenly, my neighbour, Kim, the driver of a noisy matatu number 19/60 plying Kayole-Town route via Manyanja appeared in front of me and challenged me to stop humming my favourite Zilizopendwa song. Mark you, Kim also doubles up as the least educated and the most in-corporative tenant at Gaitho Plaza. Sortly, the second mercenary emerged from a Mama Mboga’s kibanda on the roadside. Despite my drunken stupor, I recognised him as Njoro, Kims’ brother who is a taut. They wore sheds and hoods in darkness to conceal their identities. Despite the fact that my life was in danger, I could not help but laugh heartily at the way they wore excess, cheap ‘blingbling’ bought from Muthurwa matatu terminus cum hawkers market.
My contagious laugh triggered a giggle from a girl—their accomplice—who was hiding inside the kibanda. I quickly recognised to voice as Njambi’s. The naughty and under-age Njambi is the daughter of Nereah, Jonathan’s mpango wa kando who is the caretaker of Jonathan’s real estate near Tushauriane stage. Njambi is Kim’s girlfriend, but to me, I would only fancy her when I am drunk because she has a very small mouth.
Kim planted a hot slap on my right cheek when I refused to stop singing. The slap roared in my eardrum like Mr Gaitho’s landing chopper. Realising that I was in trouble, I remembered my high school karate skills which had earned me the black belt title I hold. Quickly I swung into action. I began warming my muscles by non-stop push-ups, somersault and free kicks in the air. I rapped a mixture of imaginary Chinese and Japanese with every move I made. On hearing that, Njambi got so terrified that she screamed: ‘Ngai Mwathani! Kim, Njoro…let’s run, am scared…’ On learning that Njambi had revealed their identities, the two mercenaries grabbed their girlfriend and fled the scene. In view of this, should Mr Gaitho hold a gubernatorial position?
By Maddo Ochieng’
For the two years I lived in Dandora estate with my alcohol loyalist friend, Vitalis Oracha—who would later graduate to become my brother-in-law—nobody made my life happy like the late Musa Juma of Limpopo International band. He was the man who enabled me to discover my hidden dance talent and the sweetness of benga music. Before, I was a Reggae fanatic who believed in Jah Rastafari and King Haile Slasie even without knowing their origin.
We kept migrating from house to house in Dandora because Vitalis simply couldn’t pay rent. It was from him that I mastered the skills of rent evasion, and alcohol addiction. And from me he learnt the best formulae for approaching a beautiful woman. Fortunately the house where we stayed longest—two months—was within the precincts of the famous Awendo Pub, where Benga maestros from all corners of the country performed every weekend. At times it also hosted Congo artistes who wore baggy trousers tightened with wide belts around their chests. They mentioned a lot of ‘bolingo’ word as we drunk beer until I assumed it was their Congolese word for alcohol. Vitalis and I never missed Awendo Pub on weekends. There was a Kamba barmaid there called Mwende, who topped the list of Vitalis’ priorities, while I secretly swallowed saliva for Vitalis’ sister, Sabina, who was staying with us.
When I got my first paycheck from a plastic manufacturing company in Babadogo where we worked with Vitalis as casuals, Vitalis travelled upcountry to greet his family. I remained at the helm of the house management. Stumping my authority, I took Sabina out in town and generously treated her to chips and soda at Luthuli Avenue. We took photos at KICC while holding each other tightly and grinning from ear to ear. Then we proceeded to lye on grass at Uhuru Park, chatting, giggling and chewing ballgum.
In the evening we conglomerated at Awendo Pub where Musa Juma was performing. We were smuggled in through the kitchen backdoor by one rotund Maina who asked for small corruption of only fifty bob for both of us. By midnight, dance was at its zenith. Musa Juma’s melodious voice nicely weaved into the blend of instruments tunes and beats in the song ‘Marcelina’. Sabina at first gave me a lot of trouble when she could not move with the rhythm. She danced as if it was some ecumenical church crusade which requires speed, exuberance and clapping.
“Sabina, go slow,” I told her, “why don’t you try to match my pace?”
“It is your fault, I told you I did not know how to dance benga!” She thundered. She kept bumping on me and stepping on my feet. I had to miss some steps to protect my toes. I shook my bottle in the process and my beer foamed and welled up in the bottle. But before it could spill over, I tactfully swallowed the foam as soon as it approached the bottle neck. At times Sabina clapped unnecessarily and attracted attention.
When the music climaxed, she removed her sweater and tied it around her waist. Fearing that she could remove her red slippers and clap them together, I held her hands and directed her movements to go with mine. But she wanted me to let go of her hands claiming: “I hate the smell of beer in your mouth.”
The message in the song was full of wisdom, especially to the love birds like us. It advised that marriage should be based purely on love, not on material wealth, that love based on money is devilish. Inspired by the message, I cleared my voice, inhaled a lungful of air and said, “Sabina my love, will you marry me despite my poverty as Musa Juma is singing?” She stopped dancing, lowered her head, twisted her neck sideways and said in a small voice, “Yes.”