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watery tribulations

the good Lord

When the good Lord created the villagers of the Remote route, He didn’t declare or intend  that they shall be washing every day. In the tablet of the dos and don’ts handed over by the great river Kathita, nowhere did it indicate that we have to change our clothes, whether inner or outer, every day. Further, not a single text, word or paragraph decreed that we shall shave our bodily hairs every twenty four hours.

Kindly understand the next time you interact with this bearded, grey haired villager  if you have not heard, seen or suspected him of showering for the last 48 hours only. It’s a great improvement from the seven day rule practised in the Remoteroute.

intimate relationship

Indeed, our ancestors, whom we deeply revered and constantly consult didn’t think it was necessary to cut ant hair at all. Since there was a general consensus that matters water weren’t part of our culture- otherwise the good creator would have set us near a lake or ocean- we never developed any friendship, attachment or intimate relation with the liquid form of ice.

As young bucks, we avoided water beyond our hands at all cost. It was not uncommon to hear squeal and shrieks from many a  village boma as the young  and not so young used all their vocal prowess to resist a bath. It at times took the combined effort of both parents, with one standing guard with a bakora to subdue the young gentlemen to a bath. An exasperated father once took a hose pipe and a brush in an attempt to brighten a particularly notorious shower skipper. Unfortunately, the end result was scratches and the young fellow disappearing  into the squealing and naked  .

inadvisable cloth washing

It was not acceptable that the same clothes which shall be used in the farm the following day be washed. Both in practice and as a matter of home economics, it was inadvisable that one keeps washing clothes which the following day would be immersed in the soil in the name of farming. So for six consecutive days, same outfit was worn to the farm- with a break on Sunday as we bathed  changed to our Sunday best.

As earlier alluded in these muses, the neck- both throat and nape- could nurture a garden of roses. Added to the fact that the boys shared habitat with all manner of fowls, birds and animals, it was no wonder our bodies played host to all manner of vermin and insects.

stratagem, skill and wit

A bath was not just a matter of walk in dirty and smelly and come out shiny and all roses. No, my friend, it was a process where stratagem, skill and wit won the day. As earlier alluded, the good lord did not place Remote route near any large water body. However, there was a chilly river at the base of the hill in which flowed water colder than the ice at the top of the mountain.

The river was actually used as an aesthetic in the good days when boys would be turned to men openly, publicly and without fear or favour. All the then boy to be turned to warrior needed was to dip self in the river and would be so cold that he would not feel pain as the knife sliced its way to manliness. This was any time, especially at noon when the sun was hottest and therefore dipping self to the water was most discouraged.

natural soap

A young fellow had two options- go down to the river and dip self in the cold water or take a container and fetch water  to  bath at home. The main advantage of the river shower, apart from the privacy as one could hide among the reeds, was the available of a certain herb- a fern to be precise- which grew near the river. A young fellow just needed to scrub with it and it would produce soapy substance. Thus one needed just to take self to the river and the natural soap took care of the dirt and sweat.

However, this was not a good option for the fellows about or after faced the knife. The young villager then was forced to carry the cold water uphill to his samba/hut. Since there were no raised showers, the young man would squat to use a basin to bath. The hiss as the cold water hit him would tell all. More often, the water thrown would miss his back and thud on the wall. Bathing was a self torture.

cleaned, rinsed and buffed

Our homesteads and compound would be cleaned only if and when the visitors were expected or appeared. It was also time to bring out the visitors utensils including all manner of Chinaware. This would be promptly put in the cupboard as soon as the visitors left, cleaned, rinsed and buffed till the next visitor.

fronds and vines

Another cleanup period was the ceremonies . any ceremony but especially marriage ceremonies tended to bring out the clean side of the village. Christmas was that period when after general cleaning, fronds and vines would be hung strategically all over the compound to give a Christmas  cheer to the compound.

These were the times when, despite there being no text or writ declaring so, it was apparent that cleanliness was indeed godliness.

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outdated scandals

point with their mouths

The remote route has more than its fair share of scandals. However, here was one which the villagers would speak in whispers and point with their mouths. In the good old  days, the greatest shame to engulf a family was  your daughter to, as the good book says, beget a ‘fatherless’ child. Also known as  breaking someone’s daughter leg, it was a crime which was tough enough to call for a meeting of the village sages to ponder and find a solution to the shame. 

The solution would usually be the good daughter be married of either to a widower or as a second wife to a rich nabob of a neighbouring village. It usually happened that such a sagacious solution would often sort the issue and the good lady would live to bear many sons and daughters, never mind whose biologically but the old mans in lineage.

This great old scandal is no longer salacious as it was. It’s decline  started when the men of the route ceased to be exclusive wearers of the trouser.  In the good old days, it was unimaginable that any woman, lady or any person of the fairer gender could dare be seen in a trouser.  In fact  it was the young boys  whose parents didn’t have  ability misfortune who would at times clad girls way.

sartorial elegance

But it slowly but surely  changed. First it was our daughters who went to live and work in towns who started the trend. They would wear the trousers in towns and romours of it would richly reach the village of how is and so’s and so’s daughter who  these days is the man- she wears a trouser.

One or two would show up in a trouser one evening but with the ‘decency’ of tying a shuka . Before long every young girl in the village had one. Then some of them forgot how to wear a dress at all  and were well accustomed to the trouser. They had probably more trousers than dresses.

It was then a short step to the good ladies, especially the ones who had seen many books and could out speak all the villagers became father and mother. Now, the good sages of the village had no say in these matter. First and foremost the good ladies, in the car boots, bought Christmas for half the village. The good ladies, as their brothers gulped cheap brews, build decent houses for their parents. In town where they resided for the better part of the year, their hosted their cousins as they ‘tarmacked’ and their uncles who  sought treatment for back aches and all ailments of old age.

It was these same uncles who were supposed to sit and arbitrate on their waywardness, an untenable situation if ever there was one.

And the little brats were better fed, dressed and spoke Ki-Remoteroute with a funny accent! None of our village boys and girls could hope for or imagine of the sophistication the lads brought with them, despite being barely able to clean their noses.

And so, the greatest of the scandal in the village has died a natural death.

idle village sages

Consequent to this and other changes, the village sages have almost been rendered idle, unemployed and almost considered a burden. Whereas in years past they wisdom, knowledge and decision would highly valued, we are now letting our village old people to be irrelevant. We no longer partake of the wisdom these deep wells offer.

Tell me of the scandals that were and are no longer from your hood and let us savour the good old days

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village elites

In the remoterour village, every child dreamt to be only one of these two careers- a teacher or a daktari. And it was serious.  Parents would encourage the children to work hard at school to become either. And relatives if they heard you stammer any English phrase would exclaim ’this are as wise as a teacher!’

germs ‘knew’ teachers’ children only

A teacher was not just any other villager, he was a consultant, an opinion shaper, an educator,  lead negotiator, lead farmer – in other words, he was an all round who is who in the village and a custodian of village wisdom. A teacher was so clean a model that there was a saying that germs ‘knew’ teachers’ children only.

It was the teachers’ children who wore shoes to school. The teacher was known for using salad oil to cook chapos or known to constantly fry his/her food. This was not only height of sophistication, but was a trend setting experience. As I had had the opportunity to  intimate previously, the main meal of an average Remotian  was either tuber or a root. May it be sweet potato , cassava, yam or arrowroot, the main method of cooking was boiling. So boiled sweet potatoes in the morning, yams for lunch and cassava for supper.

To provide break monotony, the roots and tubers were roasted. Or it was roasted cassava or yam. Or sweet potatoes slow roasted in hot ash rather than in hot coals. An awesome experience but quite dry all the same.

change hue

In the rainy season  when herbs- both bitter and stinging- abounded, the food would change hue by having the greens boiled together and pounded , with unga added to form what is directly translated to ‘ear bender’. This was food, if eaten in huge quantities, it was believed, would make your ears trill and twist on own freewill. Thus for a person to be able to fry his food on regular basis was the envy of the village.

Sunday shoes

Shoes were not a necessity in the village. With our feet and toes misshapen and twisted by years of literal chewing by jiggers, it was difficult to get a good fit. Further, there was simply no spare money to ‘waste’ on shoes. Thus for the majority of the population, they simply walked barefoot, or to put it more dramatically, chuma ngumu (bare iron).

A  good portion of the population would meet shoes on Sunday as we went to church. And this was strictly for going to God’s good house. You removed the shoe as soon as you returned home and kept them safe for next Sunday. 

breathers

When there was a important occasion which necessitated a group of villagers to move from the village, among the considerations in choosing the delegation was whose feet would fit in so and so borrowed shoe. The end result was such that the shoes pinched so much that it was not uncommon for the wearers to remove them and walk barefoot as soon as they were some distance away from the host place.  Another style was to make ‘breathers’ on the shoes by piercing then near the toes.

And the shoes smelled ! The stench was so serious that it was often more advisable to just let he villager in your house with shoes on.  If you would insist the villagers removing  their shoes on a visit,  would rue the  foolishness for the duration of the visit.

Thus it was a big deal to be a daily shoe wearer. And such was a teacher.

replace the broom with a bandage

A daktari (doctor)was anyone who wore a white coat and worked in health related  setting. It was immaterial whether  you were a nurse, clinical officer, a lab technician or a cleaner. A daktari was a daktari and once you were in heath facility setting, with a white coat,  you were good to go.

It was often that one person would multi task in the hospital. A nurse would diagnose, prescribe , and inject. It was common for the cleaner to replace the broom with a bandage, dressing wounds and dispersing medicine.  She was also consulted in non office hours and her prescriptions worked! These gave any and all daktaris a certain privilege and were often saluted as such.  It was often that such privileges included the best roots and tubers. Her credit limit was inexhaustible in the village ‘three in one’ shopping centre  she was also considered a leading light in the village.

Thus as we schooled, our parents would always exhort us to work double hard to be either of the two- a teacher or a daktar.

How some of us feel aside on the way and become   other things is a story for another day.

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animal protein

nduma and ngwaci

Growing up n the village, it was uncommon to come across animal (by)products served as part of the meal. It was no matter whether it was breakfast or supper, plant based meal was the king. Tea had a smattering or no milk. No sausage was ever heard of but nduma and ngwaci were common on a breakfast table. Supper and lunch  mainly consisted of a concoction which was more maize than beans, with a dash of colour from traditional vegetables. Only  in teachers homesteads did fried animal protein smell on month end. The rest of the village would wait till Christmas to ingest animal protein.

However, all was not lost, especially for the village boy. This species evolved way to compensate for  the  lack of animal protein. They devised  myriad ways including direct injection, fishing, catching the flying proteins and digging others.

mud, scratches and splashes

Direct injection of animal protein was imitating a calf during herding expedition. One would be careful not to be caught on the wrong side of the targeted cow . on surviving a possible jaw break by the hoof, the fellow would be gorged with milk got by direct transfer from teat to mouth, thus direct injection.

 The fishing expedition was not for the fainthearted no was its success guaranteed. What every boy who ventured to such an escapade was sure of getting was plenty of mud, scratches and splashes of water. 

air to mouth

Another welcome animal protein experience would occur during the rainy season. This would not happen during the dead drop cold season but the torrential rains season when out of the blue skies, a sudden torrential downpour would occur.

 Alternatively, this would be during the rainy/sunny season, Then, in the moulds of the hilly land, fatty winged insects would crawl out and fly. And the boys, together with cats and birds would follow. At first, as the protein deficiency pangs bit, the boys would snatch the insect straight from the air to mouth. Initial pangs satiated, the boys would trap the insects and put them in a bag/container to be later fried. Brittle, crunchy and fatty, the flying ants would bless the boys’ stomachs.

mole catcher

Before the children would be of age and manage to supplement the necessary animal protein, often a child would be diagnosed with red hair, weak legs  and an extended stomach. This would be on for a while before the parent realized that it was not due to the excellence of their tubers and cereals but a serious indictment concerning the lack of animal protein invigoration.   On a visit to the health centre, the medical fellows would look at the child and recommend a natural, free, easily available animal product- mole meat.

In those days, these animals which are said to be mortal enemies with the any form of light, were not poisoned chalice they are today. The farmers then were kind and benign and would not mass poison the moles but would co exist with them until the farmer went to harvest his tuber/ root and found half of them devoured by the underground scoundrels. Since the yams / cassavas would be harvested once every six months, the moles would by then be healthy, fat and delicious.

 A mole, with its two sharp protuberant molars wouldn’t be caught by just any other villager. They were specialized and skilled professionals whose career consisted mainly trapping the underworld friends.  They main tool of trade would be  a hollowed piece of wood with round etching  on the inside , both ends. The block would be about half foot .  Three holes , one in the middle would be bore along the trap  through which three strings would be thread. The strings would be, on both ends,  knotted but hidden using mud on the etching. The middle string would cut across the  centre of the hollowed  piece of wood.

The trick here would be the middle string would  form an impediment to the mole .  Some form of mole delicacy would be placed at one end on which was determined the more would exit on its feeding prowl.

The middle string would  made taut  by tying it  to a springy strong stick set to spring and release the  other knotted string  hidden on the edges. So now we have a hollowed half foot piece of wood, with three strings. Finding the hole rout/ mould which indicated the presence of a mole, the trapper would set his trap to waylay the unwary mole as it moved in the underground borrow.

red hair and protuberant stomachs

Annoyed by the ‘root’ supposedly blocking is way to the food delicious chow ahead, the mole would gnaw at the middle string. The tensile strength would swing the knot which  would tighten, mostly likely catching the mole midriff. A particularly strong trap would swing the whole contraption out of the soil in to the air.

A well known trapper would catch the mole with the first trap as he set his second.  The payment for the services were tied to the number of tails he would take to the plot owner at the end of his exercise.

It was to this  good fellow mothers of children with red hair and protuberant stomachs would seek assistance from. An agreement with him would ensure that in a few moths time, the hair would be sleek black,  the stomach  reduced to normal  and all parties happy lot.

These, dear modern day youngster were part of the tricks the villagers then ensured that yours truly had his fair share of animal proteins.

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most powerful

speculations

There are many confounded souls at the Remote village. There are many things to mesmerize   the simple villagers, but nothing has confused us more than the person who was  supposedly   the most powerful person in the world, the president of the land of white, black and Latinos. Although the Americans decided that he had earned adequate pension  and sent him parking to a village known as Mar a Lago , he remains a subject of much speculation.

shortage of names

This fellow was and is a strange one, not the least being that he shares all his names with his son. All his names! What we don’t understand is whether he didn’t have parents or other relatives? Wasn’t there a reason or an action related to him that the son could have been named after? An animal? A tree? A trade or profession? Why not call him greatest business man if that is what he does best? We the villagers can’t wrap our head around Donald Trump, Junior or Senior.

You see in the village, we never have shortage of names that a son, especially a son, has to share all te names with the parent. We also firmly believe that since our ancestors are just round the corner, its important we prove to them that we have not forgotten them. We also take a critical look at the role, character or any distinguishing feature of an elder, whether late or present, relative and attach it to one of our offspring as a name. And we don’t discriminate- if he was a fellow of the bottle, as drunk we shall remember him. An exceptional farmer? So shall he be! At the turn of the century when teachers and DCs were the big deal, the pioneer professionals had kids named after them(the professions, that is). Now you see part of the village confusion

When the so called  white fellows  came and showed us the light, they claimed and emphasised that  a man shall not marry more than one woman. He stated, and claimed divine authority on this, that those who contravene this precious rule were destined for a very hot hereafter. As the old men of the village shook their heads in befuddlement as to the illogicality of such and many other statements, the light shone and soon all the men were or claimed to be mono married.

However, we were not very averse or hostile to the idea that a man could have more than one wife, the only condition being financial capacity. Now this powerful man of the United States claims to be whitest of all white men. The same white people who talk us that only one spouse is permissible. Yet he has kids from three different spouses. Now this is not so strange in the Remote route, we have ever seen that. What is strange is the at least two of the spouses no longer live with the old rich American leader. Further, the powerful man has closed their mouths. It seems that the most powerful man is mortally afraid of his (former) spouses. A strange gentleman if ever there was one.

strange

A rich powerful me who, can’t maintain a boma(s)  and who is afraid of his spouses is just the most befuddling aspect of the POTUS of A. In the remote village, the rich don’t give a damn about what people say about his spouses . He takes pride and shows them off. And are all proud to be associated with him.  Indeed, in the village there was a good lady who ran away from the poverty of her then husband to join the harem of the rich man next door. This man is indeed strange.

sports a yellow hair do

In all our living days, we have never seen a man who sports a yellow hair do. It seems well taken care of, gelled and patted to certain shape and feel. At times, in windy days, the hair is parted and blown to reveal what looks like very suspicious   a receding hairline. This is unfathomable. A bald head in the village is believed to be a harbinger of good and great things. A bald is believed to be not only wise but rich! The reason for a man to deny being wise and rich is a complete surprise! Maybe the president isn’t to be counted among the wise, after all.

When he brought  the ability to read and write, it was assumed by the villagers that learning was an integral way of life in the land beyond the great sea. The missionaries brought the church, the school and the hospital as the beacons of light. It was further believed that these fellows who lacked melanin content in their skins were wise, learned and religious. Now the Americans harangue the rest of the world, especially those who live in the villages that our choices are out rightly foolish. We choose the unrepentant frauds, unschooled demagogues and local ne’r do well who go ahead to amass untold fortunes from the state coffers and kill multitudes in the process.

laughed out of town

Strangely, the same thing seem to have happened in the land of TV preachers. When the fellow with a hidden receding hairline declared his candidacy, he was almost laughed out of town. He had been accused of being more opaque, especially in his finances, just  like the third world tin pot dictators  his predecessors were fond of lampooning.  Yet his white religious friends and prosperity black preacherfolk continued to cheer him on. He is the most irreligious leader who can’t hold his bible straight, cant quote a verse from the good book  to save his soul, yet his support upon the evangelicals is solid. Has never attended a church service in two decades yet has tens of ‘spiritual’ advisers. Has refused to declare his taxes and talks of transparency!

America, you confounded the village!

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childhood

Joys of childhood

If ever there is a a stage in life which is lived fullest, it when one is not a toddler nor a child- a precocious young in the sense of being a three year old. its when heaven comes down, when one con rout an angel in smiling and box the devil to the seven seas. This is a time of discovery, time of unbound happiness, mirth and joy. Everything is source of laughter, from the gurgling brooks to the frightening thunder.

This is when nothing is impossible, no thing is too big. This is time when a snake is a long  multicoloured string with spikes, when a lion is seen as a overlarge cat. Its when a cat is to be  pampered and held close, never mind the fleas and other biting insects.

Joyous boisterous

There is energy in happiness. A kind of free fall happiness, with a boisterous loud laugh. It that infectious joy which percolates the hardest of the hearts, making that dour fellow crack a smile to light heavens. The kids find fun in everything- from a mere run to the eating process. Going to poo poo or soo soo is joyful walk, sprinting to the pottie. Wait until either of the parents is a way for a while- such happiness just to be see. Ah! The joy of kids is just on another level.

Carefree is the word. There is no thin which makes a child uncomfortable, save for pee and poo. Everything else might as well be as it is. What kind of food is to be eaten/given? Any is good. Clothes torn? So what! The kids don’t care or mind. We are yet to infect them with our prejudices and worries. They will jump into your arms, allow you to toss them in the air and as you  tickle them, will laugh uncontrollably. What a happy world!

Trusting that its all good in the world. That there is no negative energy to give or receive.  That we mean good for all people, regardless of their social cultural differences. We have different races,  tribes, sects or denominations but kids just trust. If only we could just continue as trusting kids .

Innocence to all and sundry.  Know of the vilest word? The kid will parrot it with no malice or attempt to hurt. They will thrash and kick without the intention of hurting. And after you spank them, they will be back to you, smiling and making you feel like a fool..

Far wise fellow once said that we don’t stop playing because we grow old but we grow old because stop playing . How true..

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long suffering villager

We who were born  in the  village a couple of decades  back ought to form an association to push for a tribunal to seek reparations and damages from our seniors  and forefathers for mental, physical and psychological torture we experienced as children.

I, the bearded white haired fellow is shocked that a tribunal, nay a commission of enquiry  on mental wellness and happiness has  not been formed to consider our special cases and circumstances which warrant further reparations. On behalf of the generation born a decade after independence and were chewing sugarcane before the during Baba na Mama days, I wish to write to the tribunal  (yet to be  formed) as follows;-

Your  most excellencies, ladies and gentlemen of the happiness tribunal;-

Greetings !

We, the mid generation salute you  and hope your  bodies, souls and spirits are in good cheer.  We are happy, dears sirs and madams, that it was found befitting that a consideration was made on mental health of your fellow Kenyans. We, the long suffered fellows  of the Remoteroute  hamlet wish to bring to your esteemed attention of the continued suffering, both physical and psychological inflicted on us by our parents, teachers and all those who were our seniors, especially in the 1970s, 1980s and including 1190s.

We wish to confirm that everyone, including and especially the church was complicit in our suffering whose scars remain etched in our collective memory and in some cases physical stripes which attest our suffering.

The church taught and stressed that to spare a rod is to spoil a child. Since, first and foremost our parents were faithful followers of the way of the cross, they took this command to heart. And we suffered the consequences.

omission and commission

Our parents would look for the switch for any or no reason. When they asked us a question, it was rude not to answer. Since it was rude not to answer, we answered. Yet it was rude also to speak back to your seniors. More so your parents. For answering we were singed with the fire of the bakora. It was unheard of to shout at your seniors. At the same time, making your seniors strain to hear you was a sin. Further, speaking to your seniors as if you were age mates was a crime. In all cases, when you answered, you were in trouble – for commission or omission, we were liable to be straightened. With a whip.

Every elderly person, in case they found you in the wrong, or thought that you were in the wrong was within his/her divine rights to cane you. And report you to your parents who would further cane you.

torture and detention centre

Schools then were torture and detention centres. Often, from the morning bell to the last school bell at 3.45pm, every teacher had a cane at hand. Were we supposed to report to school at 7am sharp. Now, dear sirs and you are aware of the sweetness of sleep especially when you are required early. You close our eyes and before you blink, not only have the roosters cried infamous three times , but your dad is pouring cold water to wake you.

cold hearth fire

Despite  the fact that non of our products from the remote route has ever won any marathon, local or international, we used to run for over 10 kms to the neatest primary school. Breakfast was thick porridge which despite all our combined efforts, warming it was an uphill task. Further, starting a fire from a cold hearth when you are in a hurry is one of the most frustrating affairs. It was therefore understandable that we were late almost every day. And, inexplicably,  every day we were candidates for the whip.

Getting to school early wasn’t a guarantee that the morning will end without the cane caressing your sitting apparatus if you are a boy or the palm for the girls. The parade ground was another fertile ground for blows. Whips and cane would sing. How long are your toe and finger nails? How clean? Does your head have a white halo from all kinds of insects having a permanent and pensionable residence there?

Was your shirt collar blacker than coal? Did  you smell like the he goat you shared the room with? Are you toes full of jiggers and other burrowing insects? Each offence was worth a slap. A knock, a whip  or a judo kick to the affected part.

noisemaker X5

There was a class of pupils in school whom we believed were chosen for meanness and sadism. Am talking about  prefects who would be on the lookout especially for the so called noisemakers.  You surely understand and know,  good ladies and gentlemen that the purpose of vocal  cords is to be exercised. Further, you are well aware that some need a greater exercise than others. Surely, was it fair for some prefects to write us in the noise makers’ book, like Bearded White Haired Fellow X5?

That , for your information,  in case you attended Group of schools, which very much doubt, meant being punished five times in a single day for the offence of making noise! Surely?

Missing school was a capital offence. It was automatically assumed that it was truancy which led to abseentism. It was not negotiable but you were immediately due to get best of the six from the discipline master. Further offences would get you into the black book, that hard cover record for hard headed truants. It was a recipe for disaster especially in case you needed to get the leaving certificate.

follow up beat

Failing exams was not to be entertained. There were some teachers who would equate the strokes of cane to be administered to the number of questions wronged. Feel the pain of the fellow who managed to get right only 10 out of fifty questions.

Unlucky fellow you would be if your parents were chums with any teacher and the are told of why you were punished at school. On the parent getting home, a thorough follow up beat was on course.

Before getting to high school and after the class seven/eight end of primary exam, it was mandatory for boys to become ‘men’. Apart from the pain and psychological suffering before  the operation, the elder boys in the village would welcome the initiate and would be forced to buy ‘cigarettes’ to prove his manhood.

smelly shoe

Of what monolization on entry to secondary school needs a separate letter on its own. Towels with bar soaps  attached were the common weapons used to welcome the mono. Calling home with a smelly shoe, not eating any  meat and doing all the donkey work was enough to mark  a fellow permanently.

We therefore, good sirs, appeal to your good tribunal to consider and add us to the list of people in need of a government bail out in light of the above.

Your most humble  long suffering servant

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total and complete

Rational sane and logical

The  Remoteroute fellows, once upon a time, we were known as rational, sane and logical people.  Especially when it came to matters spiritual and or religious, we were able to hold our heads above the waters and swim with the flow. Easily, elegantly and smoothly.

Not anymore.

It started easily and it was a no brainer. One day, a matronly lady who was not particularly known for any spirituality or piety  declared herself a prophetess. She declared herself able to foresee the future, read one’s enemies intents and protect one forthwith.  The villagers, apart from a few who were also not known for any religious zeal declared themselves anointed followers.  They dressed  uniformly in long maroon  dresses- the followers were mostly women, danced and shook in the streets especially when the ‘spirit’ took control.

 The leader was set apart by her  long yellow dress with a billowing headdress to match. Apart from occasional appearances, she  hid in her small rental house, hardly venturing out and definitely not during daylight.  Her followers would present  themselves before her and a straggling line of people of other villager from other ridges would trickle in. 

The villagers easily dismissed that lot  as lost souls.

spiritual warfare

Before long, she had gathered a motley crew of dissatisfied church goers and other people  who  suddenly had a prophetic  mistress and a new mission- to preach  the village to prosperity.  This was by identifying and burning all forms of mainly witchcraft and other spiritual warfare. Everyone in the village was whispered to be hoarding a jinni or other scary spiritual being, thanks to her relentless  ‘prophesying’. The prophetess for her services didn’t discriminate on any form of payment. Soon, it was rumoured, a whole  bunch  of bananas was the minimum  acceptable fee.

The village prophetess could ‘read’ your future.  She could foretell who your spouse could be and could tell whom your enemy was.  She could, it was claimed, recover your stolen goods if only you could afford to pay the price. Unfortunately for the village sceptic  who visited her in her dark hut, it was ‘seen’ that his spouse was the one who attempting to destroy  him. That was the cause of the mystic abdominal pains he had gone for their source to be identified. In fact he had no illness, but no one went to her and was trouble free. And as her clients increased, so did she prosper.

But the village remained as poor as it had ever been.

Spirit caught

Her followers increasing become bold, brash and loud.  Brash such that they were soon an exclusive band of long dress wearing devotees, dedicated to her cause and who would not as much as touch the unholy  unbelieving  villagers.  Bold that when they moved as a procession down the road, or as they moved to work on the farm their prophet had come into possession, nobody could get them off the road. And vehicles would stop to let them pass. And loud. As in their talking was loud, their songs were louder and when the spirit ‘caught’ any of  them, the whole village would reverberate.  The spirit possessed would sing, dance, prophesy and scream for hours to an end .

This we thought was the worst.

banana bunches

The ebb and flow of village life soon suffocated life out of this mushrooming congregation. There was, anyway, a number above which banana bunches couldn’t  be given. Further, the village men put their foot down and the spirituals were soon driven out of the village. Yet the remnant remained, hopeful of the second coming.

When the second coming of the prophetic ministries came, it caught everyone off guard. It started, just like its predecessor innocently. But what caught the villagers’ attention was the smartness of the bearers. Unlike the long dressed prophetess, the new breed wore suits and ties.

And spoke English.

They are loud- nut the noise is amplified a thousand times by the huge speakers which were placed strategically. And they had money to spend and to ‘invest’.

The savvy English speaking fellows started by referring to themselves as evangelists. Secondly they decreed and declared that they belonged to no denomination but were supporting all to spread the Word. And the mainstream denominations welcomed the charismatic smart preachers with open arms. Before long, the flashy fellows cut chunks of followers from each place they had been welcomed, especially the young people who, as of yore, were promised all manner of blessing if only they renounced all things and pledged loyalty to the new ministries.

Soon, the ministries moved from renting shop floors to tents. The tents were overflowing soon, with the new big churches coming up. Only that all the properties are all registered in individual names of the founders.

Soon, we are afraid, all the village youth will be lost in these  Jonny come  later prophets

complete and total

And these fellows demand on complete and total loyalty of their followers. They insist that it is  a divine order that all the followers tithe and give all that is good.. in fact they insist that you should give all to the good  Lord  till it hurts. That you are poor and has only but for supper, prove your faith by giving all.

And once again the villagers are suffering to these spiritual adventurers, as the founders drive the king of vehicles their followers only dream of.

And the once famed Remoteroute fellows, who were once famed for having their feet firmly on the ground are no more. The once sane rational and logical fellow villagers of the remote route village are once again submerged in an expensive  (I might add, unnecessary ) spiritual fervour.

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quarrelsome city elders

stranger than fiction

There are some things the that this not so young a fellow, he of white hair and beard fame cannot understand. More often than not, these are things that happen in the land faaar  far away, especially in the city of many lights.  There are, we the remote fellows oft say, deaths and resurrection in that  big town. It is a town many of the Remoteroute fellow fear and fascinate about.

In that great city, the last time I was adventurous enough to dare set a foot in it – and this was before another city fellow known as CS Kagwe  got the idea that he could close and open it (the city not the Remote fellow)like a kiosk-  I got so choke-full of trial and tribulations that I almost swore never to return.

First, the buildings were too tall. Indeed, the tallest eucalyptus tree in the village was a mere shadow compared to the height building in that city. Watching the buildings- amazingly made of glass- even from a distance makes a god son of soil sway, tremble and the eyes water. The dizziness was increased by the rushing throng of desperate walkers who  had no respect whatever, even for the junior elder from Remote route. I was pushed, shoved and even a certain girl, young enough to be my daughter shoved me from the pavement- though truth be told,  i was almost colliding with her in confusion.

squeeze in  handkerchief

The big city is not for the faint hearted as I learnt in the hard way. The sights I saw were  such that I had to consult  our local vicar on return to the village for the eyes to unsee. In the city, despite there being many a cloth  market, including Gikosh- as our second hand cloth seller tells us in the village- where you can get all the worlds clothing in a single walk-  the daughters  and skirt wearers who live there have never seen or heard of it. There is a serious shortage of cloths such that the  skirt wearers have to squeeze in  handkerchief size skirts which reveal more than they conceal. Even the upper torso coverings are the size of fig tree leaves  which Adam hastily plucked for Eve once they learned that they could see ‘things’.  In that city, surely there are no in laws.

The same handkerchief and fig tree leaf wearing persons also happen to very tall shoes. Its lucky that there are no hills and no water  that needs to be fetched from the rivers as the like of footwear the good city girls wear can never do.

Attempts to cross the road are more than torture in that city. My cousin had to hold to cross he multi lane roads as all drivers in that city are blind- or else how could they not see my raised hand as implored them to allow me cross the road?

Allow me not to talk about the cost of food- surely whoever bought single small  avocado for 30 bob?  Next time I shall visit the city of many lights, I shall carry a sackful of them just to show the city dwellers that we have them just outside the door- and at high season, even dogs enjoy the delicious fruit (or is it a vegetable?)- free  free!

transforming himself to a father

Anyway, all this reminisces were brought about by the visit yesterday of my Cousin from the big city.  The city lad had come on some urgent business which I shall tell on another, but chiefly to inform us he had  gone ahead and convinced a daughter of the lake that he had more than enough arrow roots in his  Remote route valley. Since he was never chewed by the myriad insects which attack the villagers, he had a talked , convinced and was almost transforming himself to a father. It was at his late stage he had remembered that we the ‘ocha’ folks  need to spit blessing .

When his parents heard the reason for the visit, they had promptly sent him to his aunts place- our home- to be taught a few home truths.

dik dik

It was after the tough deliberations that he was enthralling us with the tales of the city when he told us of the news that left half the village gasping for breath in wonder- how two elders in the city were fighting and shouting at each other over roads names.

According to this young fellow, one old man who likes to shout ‘shenzi!’  and ‘alaar!’ had a road named after him.  As wonderful as it was true, the god lad told us that the purple shirted elder who talks forever when workers are being celebrated had replaced wild animal- dik dik, of all animals –  in what was fast becoming a naming fiasco.

proclivity to books

The big land at the city of the sun had decided that the old man was like a road, with many people passing through. It therefore was appropriate, according to them, to have a road named after him. As the villagers were grumbled  and wondered  why one would not have children named after him but prefer a road, the city dweller told of another fellow who is referred to as ‘learned friend ‘ due to his proclivity to books. The ‘learned’ spectacle wearing owner of a number of  livestock, chief among them the humped variety, led the crowd which was determined to revert the name to the small antelope.

Now that  the book eater had  decided that it was in bad taste for the workers’ man to have a road in the city in his name. And the unionist was hearing none of it.

 And so a quarrel of many words and shouts ensued….

And so was the village flummoxed by the strange ways of the people of the city of many lights.

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contemporary con

The current crop of cons has  changed tact and style. They are as modern as the days are. They are snappy dressers and not only speak the local dialect but can switch  to foreign tongue at will. Despite the appearance they are worse than the previous lot and are determined to impoverish the Remoteroute hamlet. As it was in the past, my efforts to warn my fellow villagers have fallen on deaf ears ad the villager is being milked dry as I watch.

Allow me to tell this tale of woe.

 Pockets licked clean

As is with many other villagers, especially the aged and those whose children have finished school, and in inexplicable turn of events, what the wireless is describing as lifestyle diseases have invaded our dear Remoteroute village.  As almost half of the senior citizens  are suffering from diabetes, hypertension or and related complications, a nefarious cottage industry of selling supplements have arisen.  The sellers, most of them semi retired or sacked villagers are roaming the village promising the geezers of immediate and lasting relief from the complications  due to the aforementioned illnesses. This has led to some users of these supplements neglecting to use the medication to dire effects. What has been the general and common result of these supplementary adventures has been a tonne of pills dumped on old people whose pockets have been licked clean.

good villager

Since the advent of the small talking gadget which is also mobile to the village, several  money draining schemes have arose. Initially, there were  enterprising fellows who would copy a message from the m pesa and send it to the random villager. Barely a minute after the message has been received, a frantic fellow calls claiming to have wrongly sent money meant to clear a hospital bill. Kindly retain a thousand of the shillings send me the balance , the woooyie fellow would plead. The villager, having been taught and convinced  about being a god Samaritan sends  ten thousands .. only to realize that its his own money he has sent  and being left with zero balance in his e wallet.

big win

The second trick the fraudsters con my village mates of the hard earned cash is to call the villager and convince them that s/he has won big in a nonexistent or a currently running betting competition. All he has to do is to send some five thousand facilitation fee. Alternatively the villager is tricked into divulging his id number and m pesa pin by an alleged fellow from the Telco. Before the villager can shout remote, he and his money are as far apart as east from the west.

stress-free enterprise

The younger villagers who are into it have ‘discovered’ a new form of stress free business with astronomical returns. This business model requires one only to ‘invest’ some figure as low as 50 bob, predict some teams goal scoring capacity and voila! At the end of the game, you get your handsome returns.  Being neither, just like my fellow villagers, too clever or too foolish, I sensed a trap in this easy money. My small brain told me that it is not possible to get all that money if they are not collecting it from others. Now, in my small way thinking, the likelihood of being the winner as compared to others is one in a million, given that there are many other so called  investors. My explanation to the young Turks that this wasn’t healthy to their wallets, whether modern, ancient, physical or electronic, as usual fell on deaf ears.

Reward for no work

Co joined in this betting craze, driving a fanning the fire is the freshly minted FM mouths. As I had had an occasion to explain earlier, good were the days when there was only one voice in the name of the wireless.  The Baba na Mama party had ensured that there was only one radio station speaking to all Kenyans . During those days no radio would fool the villagers  that the radio station wishes to reward you for no work. They would not spend  every speaking moment admonishing, cajoling, threatening and coercing the villagers to , for those who understand Greek, Kanya kanya literally translated press press. Now that there are many  radios , some  speaking  the local language and is highly trusted brand, probably due to the historical honest radio, half of the village are on this betting craze. And then are glued to the radio awaiting that phone call that will change their lives. The last time I checked, all of them were waiting but hopeful..

Digitized reverend

The vicar has gone digital. He has also changed location. This is not the local pastor or the ‘mutaratara’ alias  orderly remote route branch of the big church. The pastor,  god forbid, the Apostle belongs to the Fire Ministry International. He has gone international but also has penetrated the length and width of Remote route through both radio and TV. And he is prophetic.  And they are more than one can count.

He see you, your marital woes and lack of product from your farm. And  Halleluyah! he has a solution. The good Lord has spoken to him about your problem and how to solve it. He knows, is sure and there is only a small bit you have to do.. send him a hundred bob daily for your prophetic dose. For a thousand and bob he will call you personally and deliver your prophecy. Direct .

So in our thousands, the little we have is being stolen in bright daylight.

Shindwe!

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