This Saturday, 11th July 2015, just started off in a disappointing note. Having overslept, I missed our men’s group plot. I don’t love sleep. No! Sleep loves me.
In shame and guilt, I requested my pops to take me wherever he’d go. And he blithely agreed.
So, I went back to my room, did my daily devotion awaiting to leave the house. Matthew 18 and 2 Chronicles 20 were my bread.
My walk conveyed an impression of an enormous, zestful excitement. Pops running his errands, I was closely learning from the best. Yes, my best. But that’s not the kernel for this article.
Our first, no second, no third stop, yes third stop, was Kitengela. I met an old man who lived during the days of independence. His prime days, that is. The aging man urged me to treat every one as a Kenyan, not in tribal lines. For there were young men and women from each tribe who died by shedding blood for our freedom, our soil, our self-governance.
It was a bit emotional and my prayer was for him to stop for I had already got the gist of the message. But again, that’s not the point.
These kids were like a mirror. I saw myself on them. They were about nine in number. Two young boys were right at the gate sitting each on their potty. Of course from the orders of their mom. The others were about everywhere. Some sat on a gigantic log as if on a bus. There was a driver and a conductor on the same. Accompanied by real car voices, they drove to their expedition. There were no jitters of tomorrow, anxiety of exams or fear of wrong doing.
But there was a young boy. Maybe seven/eight years of age – the oldest. He misled the other boys and manipulated the girls. He had a gun. Yes a gun. Made of paper. He was going around shooting everyone. And trust me you had better die.
“*twa* *twa-twa*” rent the air.
There were rules, of course. Once he shot you, you acted hurt, fell on the grass till he gave you the green light to get back up on your feet. The bold ones would protest for fair play but the young boy was immovable. They might as well have been speaking to a stone. He’d often bend the rules to get what he wanted. Only time I saw him humble and on the verge of tears is when a little young girl in braids, probably 4 years in age, threatened to tell on him for hurting her. The clever boy he was, bribed her by ceding his paper-made, treasured gun. Then, there was a truce. Peace at last!
Though some were scared and others laughed; one thing remains, they were entertained. I saw love. I saw happiness. I saw joy. I saw futures. Amidst the poverty, I saw God.
As my pops came and told me it’s time to leave, I smiled hoping I’d get to watch them for another 2 minutes.
Mlolongo Street Boys:
Ooh I forgot, Kitengela and Mlolongo are the most dustiest places I’ve been.
We arrived in Mlolongo, right from Kitengela in a huge cloud of dust spreading out in a plume behind us. I stepped aside as my pops and a certain man talked their ‘stuff’ – respect and having been raised well. I’m lying. They stepped away from me. How could I step aside yet I was the student??
At around 7 pm, the sun having gone down and darkness walking in, two street boys passed right in front of me and my eyes decided to follow them everywhere they went.
One had baggy jeans with a bikes helmet on top of his head. You see how I can have a cap on my head? That was his cap. The other had a green jumper with a cigarette on his hand and a bottle at his back pocket. He was so thin and malnourished that I concluded that might have been his food. The guy with the green jumper was the ostentatious one. He had a bounce in his walk and went around saying hi to the boda-boda fellas. The other guy with a helmet cap (you’d have burst into laughter had you seen him), had a sack on his back collecting plastic bottles. He looked the sober and focused guy among the two. They went on engrossed in a deep conversation. Maybe where they’ll get money, food or shelter. At one point they stood and began arguing. One decided to open their heart and be honest with the other. ‘Where is the glue? That’s not how you approach ladies. You hear! Let’s go back to school. Do you think that Street preacher was saying the truth?’ Possible guesses of their conversation.
They probably did not like each other entirely, but they needed each other and they knew it.
Though I don’t know them, I like them.They were honest, not two-faced as the fickle friendships of today. With nothing on their hands and disposal, they valued most what they could feel and see; and that was, each other.
I still heard their gales of laughter ringing in my head as they disappeared between the crowd of people, where I could see them no more.
And they are young. Probably my age or a bit older. But industrious!
A place where they shout “40 bob Nairobi. Fortey! (40).” Not town but ‘Nairobi’.
I saw brotherhood in the most simplistic manner. Employment was born. Young men would help the conductor to fill the bus and they’d get a 10 or 20 shilling coin. They were satisfied. There was no shame that what they did was unpopular.
In this high pressure world, where beauty is thought of in terms of physical proportions, success in terms of a car model and life generally in terms of what one has; they refuse to be swept along with the tide, to march in time with the majority. You give them fun and let them be.
As they hug at the road side, jokingly tease each other and loudly hit the bus wooing passengers; what you think of them, does not matter a bit. Your expectations of them, the desired values you’d have liked to see in them, would remain with you. These touts were not in such of better looking friends, rich friends but they went back to the hood and fished their own bringing them along to hustle. To hope again. So that when they moved in front, they’d do it together. As a unit. As a block. Not leaving anyone behind.
Till they met again on his way back, the message was “take care bro!”
In a day, the friend, could make 500 shillings or more but the fulfillment came from the fact that it was by the sweat of his brow and the help of his friends (the tout), he earned his daily bread. He had a reason to be proud. A strength to thump his chest only because a brother held out his hand to offer the little he had.
As the tout prepares to leave, he gives his friend a 50 shilling note for the assistance received, the friend in shock would ask, “Brathe, utakula nini? Hii pesa ni kubwa!” (Brother, what will you eat? This is too much!) And the tout signalling the driver to move, does reply, “Mungu yuko. Tutapata.” (God will provide.) They become givers but only because they know all their needs are met in Christ Jesus.
Having no man to thank or trust but God, what others think – what you think – is secondary.
In a time where talk has become cheap, these touts have demonstrated that what makes the difference, is doing. And so, you could judge them, mock them but you couldn’t stop their prayers. You couldn’t break their friendship.
Kitengela Kids: It’s never that serious. Just a season and it will pass.
Mlolongo Street Boys: You need two or three friends to sojourn with you through this walk of life. Not the applause and acceptance of the whole world.
Mlolongo Touts: Love is not for the fulfillment of self but for the good of others and the glory of God.
Friendships Ooh friendships. I learned something, did you?
It would be really nice to hear and know what you got from this piece.