While there is still a lot to talk about the public transport, I’ve decided to take a break this week and talk about something else. In case you are wondering what will it be about this week, well…. It’s PETS!!

            For those who live in Toronto, I am sure you must have heard about the guy who lost his eight foot plus python pet, and made the whole neighbourhood in Parkdale, scared to even walk around at night. Thanks God the reptile was apprehended, but it did leave a lot of questions as to why one would have a dangerous beast like a python as a pet? I use to live in that neighbourhood, and I totally understand the concerns of the people in the neighbourhood. It is an old neighbourhood, and the buildings are old and very close to each other. If this was in Africa, the guy will just be tagged a witch doctor; from then on everyone will know how to deal with such a person.

            There is Africa, and then there is Europe and North America. In other words there is SISI and then there is WAO. These two groups have two very different perceptions of pets and how to take care of them. In Africa, the fact that one have agreed to give an animal shelter, then it gives one the right to claim that animal to belong to oneself. Somehow I feel that we do understand that there is a difference between a pet and a member of the family. As much as the pet may be allowed to enter our houses without hodi, it does not mean that it can sleep with us in bed, nor does it mean that it can use our hard earned Lifebuoy, Rexona or Lux to have a wash. Actually no animal is allowed to use the bathroom. There is a silent rule that all animals of God wataogeshwa na maji ya mvuwa, tena nje ya nyumba, siyo ndani. There are some similarities between akina wao and akina sisi, and there are a lot of differences too. I will try to break it down for you:


AKINA WAO:                         AKINA SISI:

 1- Dogs and Cats are pets.               1- Dogs and Cats are pets

 2- Parrots are pets                              2- Parrots are pets

 3- Rats, Hamstring, and other    3-You must be crazy. Rodents are a nuisance and

      Rodents are pets.                                  food for the cats. They are NOT PETS.

4- Snakes are pets.                             4- Wewe unwazimu wewe.Hebu usituletee uchawi

                                                                wako hapa.

5- Ants are pets.                             5- Hehe hehehee muateni huyu. Ankosa kazi sasa.

6-What the hell are you talking            6- Hens, cockerel, and chickens are pets.

 about, chickens are food.

                        ……..and the list can go on.


            Another thing is naming of the pets. Usually akina sisi, will give the pets names which are not usually used by us. As for the dogs, in case you have one, will be given a name abhorred by everyone. I know of a dog named, Tusker. This is not Juha Kalulu’s dog, but one that belonged to our neighbour. A friend of mine told me that they owned two dogs in Lamu, one called Fir’aun and the other Haman. I remember as a kid in Majengo, teasing Tusker on our way to madrassa. The dog sometimes get agitated and come after us. Coming to think about it, maybe here is where I picked my jogging habits. This dog can really chase us. So many times I have rushed into the madrassa with my sandals. I would then complain to the maalim that yule taska atufukuza. My friend and I had used tusker as a bail when we know we were late to the madrassa. To dodge getting spanked we would go and tease tusker so that it can come after us and we can rush into the madrassa and complain that we were late because tusker was on our way. So you see, when akina sisi, have a dog as a pet, it is because it is supposed to guard something or the house. Many a time I have come across a sign MBWA KALI. Akina wao, have dogs for totally different reason. They are basically part of the family, and anywhere they go, they have to go with the dog. The dog has a name- a very beautiful name-, a birth certificate, a health history, and a card for the different shots it had received, it has a birthday too. It is to refer to the owner as daddy or mummy. I remember once a member of akina wao was in Mombasa with her dog. She was trying to get in a matatu with the dog to go to south coast. The driver (in his cool shades, and mouth on a constant motion due to the never ending miraa he was chewing),said without even looking at the manamba, “Na huyo hayawani hapandi kwangu. Mwambiye mwenyewe akamtafutiliye makao.”  “ Usiwe na wasiwasi.” responded the manamba. The lady saw herself inside the matatu and the dog that she was carrying, thrown on top of the matatu, together with other mizigo. “ Mumbwa wangu!!, Mumbwa wangu!!” the mzungu lady started crying. “Mumbwa ndiyo nini sasa? Sielewi wasema nini.” The manamba pretended he did not know what she was saying. Anyway, she made so much fuss that they had to get her out together with her dog. “ Watu wengine hata sijui akili zao zawatuma nini. Ati sasa ataka yeye na mbwa wakae ndani ya gari pamoja na sisi. Si ndiyo kukoseyana heshima tena. Hawa wazungu wajidai wasafi lakini hakuna watu wachafu kama wao.” lectured one passenger.

            The cats of  akina wao is fat, clean, spoiled, and assured of a good meal and a place for its bowel movement. I don’t like this. Once I made myself known that I did not like the way cats are treated in the land of akina wao. I was asked why? I said that in the land of akina sisi we give our animals freedom. There is no curfew for them, they can come in and go out as they wish. They are always assured of a home. All they have to do is look for there own food. Once in a while they may get some fats from the steak, or the heads of fish. “ How do they look like?” I was asked. “ Thin, smart, clever, survivor, and assured that if it will not look for its own meal it may stay hungry for that day.” They looked at me with contempt. The only time that the cat is in trouble is when it decides to steal that kitoweo of the day. Whether it is meat, or fish. These are the times that you see babake nanihinoni comes home and see mamake nanihuyu with her kibwebwe and breathing heavily.

“ Vipi chakula tayari?”


“ Ala nakuuliza ati chakula tayari, wanisonyea. Manake nnini?”

“ Utakula wali na mtuzi pekee leo. Hakuna kitoweo.”

“ Vipi hakuna kitoweo na nnampa ninihuyu akanunuwe samaki kwa Bereki?”

“ Clinton anbakura samaki wote. Tena nakujulisha kabisa akitokeya hapa jikoni tena ntamuuwa, nimtupe ndani ya hili jiko. Mwenyewe nna hamu na huyo tafi leo mimba yangu hii changa sitaki kitu ila huyo samaki halafu huyu mwanaharamu akaja kuwabakura. Mwanao akitoka na maalama ujuwe ni kwa sababu ya hii leo.”

Babake nanihinoni understood that things are rough today. He just ate quietly and left the house in search of Clinton the cat.

            My colleagues at work once asked me if I have a pet. I responded on the negative, but I was thinking of having one. They were all excited and asked me what I would like as a pet. Knowing that in the land of akina wao anything goes, I said that I would love to have a chicken as a pet. On weekends I would put a leash around its neck and stroll in downtown or at the habourfront with my pet, stop when it stops to peck on the concrete floor or on real soil.