my-village

GWENG

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There’s a solace one begets with being at home. David’s brawl with Goliath was long touted a mismatch by seasoned umpires of his time. Born and bred in Bethlehem, David drew not strength from turbidity of his muscles but the prospect of doing battle in his land of birth. David, en-route coronation to King, mustered valor from an acute sense of belonging.

Akin to sport. Any athlete worth their salt would talk of home court/ground advantage. Gor Mahia will always be rearing to go against a star studded Real Madrid side long as match venue is Moi Stadium, County 042. K’ogalo players will ooze sweat and blood. Give an arm and leg. Fight tooth and nail. Not because Gor dare match Madrid for talent neither do they wield any competitive advantage over their opponents. Nonetheless, they would tempt their fate with all intentions of defining it. No matter how irrational, it’s the honourable thing to do. Such is the gumption pegged to being at home. It’s a call to martyrdom.

Congruent to this spirit, I made my way home – retreating to wage war at a fortress I know all too well. In a bid to face an almost insurmountable nemesis – a microbe. We all know the nomenclature but I rather not validate it. Needless say has become an exasperating ordeal hearing it over and over. All in all, I figured if defeat is imminent it’s in my best interest to go out on my own turf.

One week prior to government declaring cessation of movement in and out of Nairobi Metropolitan Area, my journey of retreat took place. Kano plains, Nyando constituency, Kakola Boya sub-location is my current area code. Inhabitants of a miniscule clan by the name ‘Tura’ are housed here. I am an avid member by birth and by choice.

Months of April-May came and have had their say. Definitive tirades to be precise. Flash floods have pillaged villages here, some places still looking grim even as the dust settles. Collateral damage caused by those rains is glaringly evident now. Perils of homelessness, disease (malaria/cholera outbreaks) now menacing affected families. Well-wishers and the press seem to be solely mitigating the county’s sickening state of inertia. Not to mention, curfew season is in session too. However, the gravity of Covid-19 stops at T.V chyrons. Staying at home, social distancing, frequent sanitisation and other Ministry of Health guidelines are mere jargon. The few who partake of those preventive measures are perceived to prefer a nuanced lifestyle choice – like a form of sophistication. It’s cringe worthy. You may think defiance is ingrained here. For them the world is round and so there is no curve to flatten. Life goes on. Seamless. After all, nobody can stop reggae.

My perennial walk to Ahero elucidates this reality. Ahero happens to be the big apple here. It’s our Wall Street at least before you get to Kisumu. One time I engaged in discourse with some boda boda riders hopefully to gain insight on this prevalent cavalier attitude. Perhaps to also stoke some fear from my end. Feedback is poignant. Many citing lacking financial means necessary to make a different choice. Sophistication is something they too admire. They know better. Its just not the first time they are hard-pressed between life and death. Stoic, unperturbed, nonchalant is how they live on. State apathy is rife. Boda boda business is booming. It’s nearly every man’s occupation here. Graduates and dimwits alike – wheeling a motorcycle is the glass ceiling of dreams for many.

Upon return, embarking on my strut from Ahero, I interact more with aspects of bucolic life. People and place commensurately. I go by ‘JaNyando’ or ‘JaTura’. Prefix ‘Ja’ means man of/from, in my case man of Nyando – an effusive member of Tura clan. Rarely does anyone refer to my government names. It’s culture. You are called by your area of origin or clan because that is where your allegiance belongs. Not to any other entity but your community. Rudimentaly, all villagers are kinsmen. Therefore, each one is worthy of acknowledgement whenever you come across one. Armed with pleasantries is how I walk.

Congenitally I am as native as they come but locals can identify an alien when they see one. Hence longer exchanges explaining my absence, providing updates concerning Nairobi while at it promising to visit often and eventually settle at home. It’s an amiable ambience. I like it.

Sprouts of modernity are visibly edging their way between mud huts. Residents particularly younger ones are now embracing neutral modalities of communication. Even though local dialect still reigns supreme. No longer is it an absurdity to hear people conversing in Swahili. Don’t mind English, it is a variation of the local dialect. Permeation of cultural absolutism is a good thing. In my view, opening channels of interaction between locals and the world beyond. Prosperity can only be a sure by-product of this development. Improved connectivity is now also conspicuous. Completion of Isebania-Kisii-Ahero road has elevated community status. Internal rural alleys are as a result bidding to be tarmacked – exponentially shoring up commercial value of land. High mast flood lights illuminate pathways on evenings too.

Towards the social end of life some things are notable. Much to my astonishment, there is a groundbreaking development – a state of the art movie shop dabbling as a gaming lounge. Teenagers flock by day in day out to whisk away quarantine hours. It’s not all about fetching firewood anymore. Ancestors must be tingling in their graves. Walk in with a flash disk and off you go with your favourite Netflix show at a very affordable price – 20/- per season. Presumably, internet installation should follow soon. Besides, there is a rising fast food craze – satiated by a host of roadside sellers. Mostly women, touting bhajia, chips, sausages among other greasy foods. They even sell on order. For those who drop by after work and pick their food. It’s a KFC walk through.

Political talk is ineluctable. Barazas of men at different pass time spots are gripping to watch. Young and old vehemently talking at each other. Boisterous praise for ‘Baba’ seems to be the only form of consensus. Chatter is vibrant, everyone in awe of how ‘Baba’ managed to absolve his political career through BBI. Yet 7pm comes by and the stinging aroma of teargas is midair dispersing locals. They get contempt for their adulation. It’s a love hate relationship between politics and reality.

On completion of adventure, I take root in my ‘simba’ – a little iron sheet establishment. Compliant to customary obligations. It’s a totemic figure. A polite caveat saying anyone my age should fend for themselves, any more nights spent in my parents’ house are henceforth mere sleepovers. Supper is ‘kamongo’ (boiled catfish) served with sorghum ground Ugali – hearty escape from urban carcinogens. For breakfast, ‘nyuka’ (porridge) and cassava. Bread is elusive.

Prelude to those evening walks are spent within the home. Daytime is about tending to a household cow, a kitchen coop and slashing protruding thickets repeatedly. Sometimes I gaze into the haziness of the future. (Un)Fortunately mine is an experience of privilege vis a vis the prevailing situation in other homesteads. I write seated beside my deceased father’s grave. It gives me perspective doling out a sense of appreciation – just what a lifetime of industry truly means. Sitting here presents a dart into the past and a leap into tomorrow. Words like ‘sacrifice’ become more palpable.

44th POTUS Barack Obama at the Kasarani Complex 2015, in a spurt of wisdom said, “We have not inherited the world from our ancestors, we have borrowed it from our children.”

In these ends running water, clothing, a kitchen coop, a household cow and reliable shelter are marks of fortune. More than enough to get by. For a good number of families here, lack is almost endemic. But poverty is delible. Onslaught against ailing systems must persist but we have to indict ourselves first. Appraise our efforts wherever we take up space. Posterity connotes ‘them’. Our children, successors and those coming behind us. Our prerogative is to graft away for an unseen better tomorrow. For a kitchen coop, a household cow and reliable shelter on rainy days.Maybe those who will come after us will be courteous enough to look back and pay tribute – but that’s not up to us. Indeed we are in debt. We compensate generations to come by what we do today.

By the way Gweng means village.


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2 thoughts on “GWENG

  1. Howdy! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog. Is it hard to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about creating my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any tips or suggestions? Many thanks

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