A Kiss of Adventure
There is this friend of mine called Alfred Mayodi who has produced my last two songs. He is such a poor communicator, but I like him just the same. The good thing about him is that he charges me cheaply and affordably for his services in producing my songs. He is also a pleasant fellow to work with.
Early this week, Mayodi and I agreed that we would produce on Wednesday a song I had composed. But when the day neared, he didn't receive my calls. Neither did he call me back as he had promised in a text message he sent me on Tuesday evening. Come Wednesday morning, he still wasn't receiving my calls which I dialled with the intention of confirming the time I would go to his studio. So I gave up on my plans of producing the song that Wednesday.
After I had already given up on my plans, I saw a text message from Mayodi at 11.47am that very Wednesday. He was telling me to meet him in his studio at 2.00pm of that day. When I read the message, I changed my mind and decided to commute to Nairobi where Mayodi's studio is located. So I quickly took a shower, got dressed up and left home for Nairobi. As always, I carried with me a book to read during any idle moments that might arise. This time, the book I carried was M. R. Kopmeyer's Thoughts to Build On.
Because I was already late, I boarded a motorbike instead of walking to my hometown of Kiserian where I was to catch a matatu to Nairobi. And when I got inside a matatu, I tried saying a silent prayer but words weren't flowing fluently in my mind as they sometimes do. But I nonetheless asked God to grant me success in producing my song at Mayodi's studio.
And wa! The matatu I was travelling in began to malfunction on the way to Nairobi. Its engine would sometimes go off and the driver would switch it on with difficulty. And from the way the engine would sometimes sputter, it seemed the matatu could conk out any time, leaving us stranded on the road. Thankfully, the matatu made it to Nairobi safely. I breathed a sigh of relief when I alighted from it in downtown Nairobi.
Upon reaching downtown Nairobi, I boarded a bus that took me to the side of Nairobi where Mayodi's studio is located. And when I got out of the bus, I still had some distance to cover to Mayodi's studio, including crossing a superhighway via a footbridge. About five months ago when I last travelled to Mayodi's studio, I had felt real scared while crossing that footbridge. I can still feel how frightened I felt while I walked across the footbridge as an endless stream of cars cruised underneath it at fast speeds.
Last Wednesday when I used the footbridge, I wasn't as scared of using it as I was five months ago. But I still felt the heebie-jeebies as I walked on it. As I ascended the stairs of the footbridge, I passed by a small boy who was also going up the stairs nonchalantly while leaning on the handrails. Oh my! The small boy didn't seem in the slightest bit scared of looking at the world underneath the footbridge. I thought that was very brave of him.
Seeing the small boy climb the footbridge unscared reminded me of a time in my childhood days when I felt frightened of climbing down the stairs of a certain building in Nairobi where my father had an office. As I descended the stairs, the sight of the distant floors below reduced me to a quivering jelly. I am now thinking that I must have been that frightened because I grew up in a village environment where I wasn't used to tall buildings.
Anyway, coming back to last Wednesday, I arrived at Mayodi's studio at around 3.00pm. Though I was a bit late, all went well. I enjoyed producing my song, which we did for about two hours. And because I didn't want to leave Mayodi's place while still dark, I left the studio at around 5.30pm. I requested Mayodi and his colleague to do the final touches of the song and send it to me via Whatsapp.
In a bus on my way back to downtown Nairobi, I happened to be seated in between the bus driver and an elderly nun. As the bus followed the road, something unclear to me happened between the bus and a lorry, but they didn't collide. Lo! The incident made the bus driver flare up in temper. He hurled insults at the lorry driver. And he was insulting him using obscenities while showing him the middle finger, without minding the presence of the elderly nun who was seated next to me.
As the bus was entering downtown Nairobi, we got stuck in a snail-moving traffic. Cars were bumper to bumper in that traffic jam. I took advantage of the traffic by reading the M. R. Kopmeyer's book that I had carried. And I learnt from the book that it is healthy to talk to a trusted friend about the things that are troubling us.
When I reached downtown Nairobi, I boarded a matatu for a journey back to Kiserian. I reached home at around 9.15pm while it rained. And after I got home, I thanked God for journey mercies and for having granted me success in the adventure I made to Nairobi last Wednesday. It was an adventure for shizzle.
NEW! NEW! NEW! If you'd like to listen to the song I produced on Wednesday, it's available in the video's section of this blog. Just click on the "Videos" link on the menu at the top of this blog. The song is titled "Live in the Moment".
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The People of Kenya
When I talked about the natural resources of my country Kenya in my previous story in this blog, I didn't mention the people who make our nation. (They too are part of the resources of our nation.) We have about 42 tribes of people in Kenya with different languages and cultures that all merge to become the unique mix of Kenyan culture.
Of the 42 tribes in Kenya, the most famous are the Maasais who are known worldwide for their distinct culture of wearing red sheets, carrying spears, herding cattle and jumping during their dances. I happen to live in a Maasailand and from my experiences of interacting with the Maasais, I have found them friendly and law-abiding despite the fact that they carry spears - you will rarely hear of a traditional Maasai charged in court for violence or robbery. They are also very supportive. Like when my family was fundraising money for my mother's heart surgery in 1999, some Maasais were very generous with their contributions.
Less famous but equally prominent tribe in Kenya are the Kalenjins who have produced the best long-distance runners in the world. The Kalenjin runners, such as Kipchoge Keino, have earned our nation honour by winning medals in the Olympic Games. Recently, a Kalenjin by the name Eliud Kipchoge captured the world's attention when he broke the marathon record by running the race in less than two hours. I think it will take many years before that record is broken, unless some genetically modified persons are produced in test-tube laboratories.
Still less famous but prominent tribe in Kenya are the Luos who are proud to have produced Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States. (Obama's father was a Luo.) I have heard it said that Luos are boastful in their writing and speaking. And I think that's true because I have listened to several adverts on TV and radio of Luos speaking in a bombastic language.
Then there are the Luhyas who hail from the western part of Kenya. The Luhyas are reputed to love chickens. And I think the Luhyas do really love chickens given the way they append the word "kuku" (Swahili word for chicken) to the names of some of their men. Like I have a bright Luhya friend called Lawrence Sikuku who impressed me in high school for his consistent stellar performance in academics. Sikuku was always either position 1 or 2 in our class right from term 1 in Form 1 till the final high school exams.
Then there are the Kikuyus of which I am one. We, the Kikuyus, happen to be the majority in Kenya. It is said of us that we love money. How true that stereotype is, I am not sure. I am personally proud of my Kikuyu heritage; I sometimes listen to some traditional Kikuyu folk songs that I have saved in my laptop. And I am grateful that I can speak Kikuyu fluently.
And then there are the Somalis who come from the north-eastern part of Kenya. Virtually all Somalis are Muslims. And because of their religion, they are very faithful in prayers. When I was at the University of Nairobi in 2011, I used to see some Somalis bow down to pray outside the university lecture-halls. These days, I have observed how the Somalis who run the biggest supermarket in my hometown of Kiserian, close the supermarket at lunch hour so that they can go for prayers in a nearby mosque.
A story about our country's people would be incomplete without mentioning two races of people who are not native to Kenya but have become part and parcel of our nation: that is the Europeans and the Indians.
The Europeans (popularly known as "Wazungu" here in Kenya) settled in Kenya in the early 20th century when Britain was colonizing Kenya. Some of them remained in Kenya after our nation gained independence in 1963. And a few, like the late Dr. Geoffrey Griffin (founder of Starehe Boys' Centre), have played a pivotal role in our country's development. Perhaps because of the many tourists our country receives from Europe, some Kenyans tend to think that the "Wazungu" like to travel.
The Indians also settled in Kenya in the early 20th century. Many were brought by the British to perform such manual labour as building the railway lines. And after Kenya gained independence, they became part of our nation's citizenry. The Kenyan-Indians of today are renowned for their skillful trading.
I would have loved to go on and on about the other tribes of Kenya but let me not do so, for to say too much is worse than to say too little. So let me conclude by advising people to:
Before I finish my story, I must say that the diversity in culture of our nation's people has been more of a weakness than a strength because we have had several tribal clashes in the past thirty years that have left many homeless and displaced. I hope there will come a time when Kenyans of any tribe are free to travel and live in any part of the country. That's all I am saying.
- jump like a Maasai
- run like a Kalenjin
- speak like a Luo
- eat like a Luhya
- bargain like a Kikuyu
- pray like a Somali
- travel like a Mzungu
- trade like an Indian
- and live like a Kenyan!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story about the people of Kenya, you might also enjoy listening to a song I produced a few years ago about "Beautiful Kenya". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.