VISA NA MIKASA……………ATA N’KWAMBIYE 19!
…….. back to school continua:
As I promised in the last series that I would give a number of visa na
mikasa in this issue, well… here I am. These incidences run on double
tiers. They come from both teachers and students. I will still remain
with the Primary schools before rushing to the Secondary schools- (Matano,
it is nice to know that there is another Khamis guy in SOL). Let me
start with this big monkey called English. Since all the examined
subjects were in English, the subject became every teacher’s obsession,
and the student’s nightmare. Students were not allowed to speak any
other language but English. If one was caught speaking a language other
than English, one may end up sitting kitahiyyatu from the mbokos that
will land on their makalio. Since our class teacher got tired of
dropping the scads on our matakos, he came up with a new method. He made
up a big card, with the writing: I was not speaking English. Whoever
spoke his mother tongue, or any language other than English, one was to
wear the card around one’s neck. By the end of the day, whoever was
wearing the card, gets to sit kitahiyyatu that night. This approach
helped in one thing. The classes were relatively quieter than if the
students had a free choice of language. Now here comes one Kisa.
There was this guy in our class whose past time was studying the
dictionary. When he comes across a word that has a lot of letters from
the alphabet, he makes sure that he uses that word either in a
conversation or in his composition. That day he came across the word,
flabbergast. As it was his routine, he decided to use the word on his
“ I am flabbergasted at your behavior.” Said the dictionaralist (if the
word dictionarilist does not exist in the language of malkia Elizabethi,
then I demand for it to be added and accepted!)
“ What! Ati mimi is flabbergastering you? Basi bloody flabbergasted you
and your mother and you father too, mshenzi wewe.” Roared the desk mate.
“ Aah shuddap.” Responded the dictionaralist with a twist of an American
“Ati nini?” the world broke lose.
“Alhadhirina nnani mwenye kadi. Hebu nipeni!” continued the desk mate.
He then picked up the card wore it on his neck, then, as most of the
people in Mombasa would say, akafunguwa chuo sasa. When one goes on the
rampage like this, the whole class is happy, because, until he calms
down, everyone can speak Kiswahili as long as one wants. “Kidogo
mukijiiona munjaaliwa hicho Kizungu basi mwaona mwaweza wapanda watu
vitwa, nntakuonesha nini maana ya FALABAGASTED.” The whole class was
cheering with shouts like,
“Mwambiye! Mwambiye!” while others with the parliamentarian’s favorite,
“Toboa! Toboa!” A few who were not willing to take the risk of speaking
Kiswahili went with shouts like, “ Tell him! Tell him! We are tired of
his porojos!” At this time, the two guys were facing each other,
fingers folded, fists formed and a bout was about to commence without
the need of a promoter. “Mvae kimengo huyo!” a suggestion was heard in
the air. The scary part was that, our class was right adjacent to the
Staff room. Any noise made was easily heard in the next room. The whole
class had formed a boma and the two contenders were in the middle. The
Askari Kanga rushed out of the class to report the fracas to any teacher
available in the Staff room. A minute later, he showed up with our
“ Jiska! Jiska Jamaa…!” someone shouted the code word, which meant, “ Be
alerted, an unwanted character has entered the premises, and we should
be in our best behavior.” These words were quite effective. Most of the
time, one may find oneself in a class that was too noisy, all one needed
to do was to shout, Majiska jamaa…and the whole class goes to silence.
In this particular case, everyone rushed to their seats, and acutely
became ‘monks’ who have taken the vow of silence.
“ What is going on!” Our Joji Msitu of, the United Desks of Standard 7A,
There was no answer. Joji Msitu repeated his question again, but to no
avail. He therefore decided to change tactics; “ I am going to punish
the whole class, if I don’t get an answer as to what really happened. I
don’t want my monitor to tell me. I want to hear it from the class. So,
here I go again…what is going on?” Nobody dared come forward. When the
teacher was just about to open his drawer to pull out, ‘the mother of
all fimbos’- also known as Inzirani, one guy shot his hand up and
lethargically got up mumbling, “ Ati nnchapwe kwa ajili ya watu wawili
“Yes…speak.” the teacher ordered with a grin and his hands folded over
his chest; glad that his tactic was taking some effect.
“ This one and this one are kutukanana, and then him got up and then he
says Wewe waniita mimi fala and then English word English word biig,
sijaisikiapo and then ngumi sasa him close hand and him close hand too
lakini bof waogopa kuzirusha and then we here, there, there, all unda
boma here and them katikati, and then you come in.” the collaborator
briefed. The dictionarilist and his desk mate were told to stand up,
which they obediently did; at the same time eyeing the collaborator.
“ Speak!” demanded Joji Msitu. They both started to talk at the same
time. All we could here was flabbergasted…flabbergasted…flabbergasted.
The teacher raised his hand to indicate that they should both keep quiet,
and then he asked, “ What is flabbergasted? What doest it mean?”
“I don’t know Sir, lakini laonesha nneno chafu. Kama matusi hivi, ndiyo
mimi n’kakasikirika.” Said the desk mate. When the teacher asked the
dictionarilist what does the word mean, the dictionarilist could not
remember the meaning anymore. They were both pulled out of the class and
taken to the staff room where they both had a taste of the Inzirani.
Another incident had something to do with a teacher who came to school
with Achari, Mabuyu, and viyazi vya karai that his wife made at home and
sold them to the students. On days that students were hit by recession,
the teacher was willing to give his items on credit. One problem with
this particular teacher was that he would not take a ‘no’ for an answer.
“ Eeeee Mwamadi, hebu ndoo hapa. Wewe hata sku moja sijakuwona ukinunuwa
vitu vyangu hapa. Siku zote wakimbiya kwa mama wa kibadala kununuwa
bajiya zake. Twaa pakiti mbili hizi za achari.”
“Lakini Maalim mimi sina pesa hapa.” Responded Mwamadi
“Aaaa staki kusikiza maneno yako mimi, twaa utanilipa baadaye.” To
avoid any other confrontation, Mwamadi would take the two packets of
Achari and go.
A week later, Mwamadi had not paid for the Achari yet, and Maalim had
gone on ‘repossession’ hunt. Probably ‘Chief of the IMF’ at the Maalim’s
home had been demanding for her money. She probably had been giving the
Maalim a class in economics, that if he does not go after his creditors,
then recession will start hitting home. The Maalim does not want
recession to hit home, because what it meant was that, there would be no
more samaki wa kupaka, wala chai kwa sambusa baada ya swalatul Asr. He
was not ready to give up his life style because of the likes of Mwamadi.
After the assembly, the Maalim would come rushing in the classes with
his own Inzirani. Since his creditors were many, and he runs his
business in the kuaminiana format, he usually had a hard time to put his
hand on the ones that hadn’t paid yet. Therefore he was picking
students on trial and error.
“Wewe watoka Kisauni siyo?” said Maalim but not really sure whether
Mwamadi owed him or not.
“ Aaaa Maalim mimi natoka Mtongwe.” Responded Mwamadi very fast, hoping
to get off the hook.
“Kisauni, Mtongwe yote nnsawa kwangu mimi, kuna bahari pande zote. Toka
hapo khabithil amal wewe.”
Mwamadi received a good beating for that. He went sitting crying, with
both hands massaging his behind, and vowed right in front of the Maalim,
“ Na Wallahi Maalim mimi sikulipi, ukitaka kunichapa tena nichape
lakini sikulipi.” So went the incident of the teacher and his acharis.
VISA NA MIKASA…………ATA N’KWMBIYE 20!
Since the Eid-Ul-Adha happened to be a few days ago, I’ve decided to
take a break from the school and visit the Eid days of our childhood. As
they say here in North America, ‘to grab the Kodak moment.’ Looking at
the kids here in Canada, and I am very sure it is the same thing in the
US of A and Europe, I can’t help it but feel sorry for them. Nothing
will beat our time amidst the poverty and endemic scarcity of almost
everything. Let me crack my fingers, and get ready to start punching the
keys to give you my dossier.
Before the Idd:
The children welcome Idd-ul-Fitr differently from Idd-ul-Adha, but the
celebration is quite the same. As the big day approaches, the air in the
island is filled with the aroma of goats. For those who could afford to
buy a goat, do so at least three days before the Idd. The logic being,
at least the children can have fun, with their new pet. In the
neighborhoods of Majengo,-aka the hoods of Kudzacha, where I come from,
we use to take the goats to Ziwani, where Makadara use to take place
when the real Makadara in downtown was not functioning. Since the goat
is not used to its new environment, you cannot let the goat on its own.
You have to tie a rope on its neck and hold tight. I’ve seen few ropes
gone loose and the goat running in the middle of the street, a child
after it crying, “ Mshikeni jamaani. Leo nenda uliwa nyumbani, eeeeeeee.”
Another thing a parent, cannot make a mistake and bring a she goat. That
will be embarrassing, to his son. The son will complain throughout and
the father may have a headache that no aspirin can cure except a change
of gender of the goat.
“ Sasa baba unfanya nini bwana?” whines the son
“Kwa nini mwanangu?” answers the father with a question
“Jike bwana… aaah” complained the son
“ Kwani ana nini? Mbuzi jike nyamna yake tamu, hana mafuta mafuta mengi.”
The father tries to explain to his son.
“ Sisi twataka beberu bwana, mregeshe huyu tuletee beberu.” The son
demands. Some fathers cave in, while others they just brush such
complains aside. You may wonder why the son is so concerned about the
goat’s gender. It is a big deal if you are a boy growing up in the
Island. Experience has taught the children that, “Hawa mbuzi hawana
adabu. Watakuja tuaibisha mbele za marafiki zangu. This even happens on
both the Eids. Then comes Siku ya Alhayaa. This is the day when many
houses stay awake till dawn. After Isha, the mbuzi will go through its
last supper of regurgitated mould of kangeta, and then atindwa, mad cow
disease or mouth and foot disease not withstanding. Very few houses
follow the sunnah of chinjaring the mbuzi after swalatul Eid. On this
night, there will be Nyama choma all night, with the warnings about
cholesterol hitting deaf ears. These are probably some of the few days
when you will hear a father telling a child, “ Kula mwanangu…. kula!”
Another thing to remember is that no child will be rushed to go to bed.
All the akina Clinton the cat, akina Wekelea the dog and the akina
Hillary the chicken will have a good meal without the threat of a kiatu
or kifufu landing on them.
During the Eid-ul-Fitr/Eid-ul-Adh-ha:
The Sunnah of the Prophet is that, one should have something before
going for Swalatul-Eid on Eid-ul-Fitr, and one should eat after Swalatul-Eid
on Eid-ul-Adh-ha; as children, we never cared. We ate before going to
the mosque on both Eids. This is how a typical Eid looks like to a child:
The child is very much excited and hyper, even though he/she had very
little sleep and a lot of meat to eat the night before. The child wakes
up and rushes to take a shower without the hassle of the parents.
Usually the parents have to go through the ritual of
“ Eee we kitwa. Yallah nenda zako chooni kaoge. Unkaa na mato kuyafunga
utasema bagwani wa kibaniyani hapa. Hayaaa nenda kaoge.”
And then the children have their own rituals in the toilet. Since the
shower has to be done manually by craning the kopo la cowboy into the
ndoo and filling it with water and raising it over your head, too much
energy would be needed that the child is not willing to offer. Therefore
the child decides to stand and face the ndoo as if it is a jeneza and
about to do the swalatul mayt. The child will take off all the clothes,
and just stand there. Every now and then he will be scrubbing the corner
of his eyes to remove those obstinate matongo, which creates some
undesired make-up. Then the call comes from outside the washroom. “Sisikii
maji mimi. Usinifanye nikaingiya chooni, manake utaoga na kiliyo.”
Somehow it always works. You will hear things moving in the bathroom,
and two minutes later the child is out of the washroom wet, a towel
around his waist, soap around his ears and the back of his arm is
completely dry, an indication that not a single drop of water hit the
area. The child knows that there is a discrepancy somewhere. He
therefore rushes out of the washroom and into the room before his mother
sees him. All this happens on regular days, but today the child takes
extra care and make sure that water falls on every part of his body.
When he comes out of the washrooms, he strolls, to his room, with the
intention that his mom would see how ‘fresh’ he is.
In the room he awaits the mother to come with the new clothes for the
occasion. “ Tena nenda kazichafuwe basi. Manake utundu wako hauishi.
Ushasikiya…. kama sitokuonesha mimi.” The boy is all smiles. All his
teeth are displayed, and nothing that his mother could say, would spoil
his day. He puts on his nguo za sikukuu and ready do go and show his
friends in the neighborhood. “Unsema Bismillahi, au mbiyo unzivaa tu
kama mwivi wa nguo wa stesheni.” The mother questions the child out of
concern of following the Sunnah. The boy just nods his head and very
quickly says the basmallah kimoyomoyo. At the mosque he feels that he
doesn’t need to take wudhu because he has never been this clean, since
last Eid. After the prayers, now the campaign begins.
Every adult through the next three days will be renamed Shikamoo, Eid
Mubarak. The child will start to stretch his hand to every adult, “Shikamoo
babake Omari, Eid Mubarak.” The adults are prepared too. On the eve of
the Eid they have already gone kwa duka la shebe Abeid and changed his
money to Mapeni na mashilingi .
mwanangu. Haya wee leo ntakupa shillingi manake ramadhani yote nnakuona
msikitini.” So the campaign goes on and on, from person to person, and
from house to house. The child has never handled this much money, he
therefore divide his pockets into different banks. The right pocket will
be dealing with mapeni na mandururu, the left pocket will be dealing
with mashillingi na mathumni and the small pocket in the front, along
the waist line will be dealing with manoti. The logic being that, no
pick- pocket person will ever be able to reach that pocket without him
being aware. The boy’s hands are constantly dealing with money and
constantly exchanging money and putting it in its respective places.
After lunch, the child has collected enough money to start budgeting on
how to spent it. Many parents grant permission to their children to go
to makadara after the Asr prayer. This child has never tested this much
freedom in his life. He becomes really excited. A stream of ideas flows
through his head, and he makes a mental note on ‘things to do’.
1- Leo lazima nende sinema
2- Kisha ntakwenda Two Fishes, au Stavros nkale chips na samaki au chips
3- Kisha ndiyo nende makadara.
With this plan embedded in the child’s mind, all that is remaining is to
do the ‘cat walk’ in the neighborhood, showing them what he has in line,
as far as designer clothes are concerned, (even though the Kaunda suit
was sewn kwa Pateli, the Indian tailor). The boy goes to the matinee
cinema, so that he can get time to do all the rest before his curfew
kicks in. As he is waiting for the theatre to open, he tightly clenches
to the ticket that he bought with his own money, and goes looking for
ice cream. The ice cream has to be chock stick, or coned. Immediately he
sees one of the Lyons ice cream hawkers, he shouts at them and goes to
buy the ice cream.
After the movie he goes to the fish and chips joint. The fact that the
line is long does not bother him. He will wait on line until it is his
time. The restaurant owner easily tries to confuse the children by
mentioning to them a very long menu of what the child can have.
“ Nini taka, iko chips iko kuku, samaki, iko chana bateta, iko bajiya
kama taka faluda au ice cream wewe sema tu, ninitaka?” the Indian owner
“Chips na kuku ngaa??” the child child asks trying to look complicated
“shillingi tano na nusu, kama taka kitu ingine zaidi, wewe taengeza pesa
“Mimi nnazo pesa bwana, usinifanye kama ambaye nnakuja omba hapa ala.”
The child answers the Indian angrily while displaying the numbers of
bills he has, and rocking the side of his pants so that the coins can
make their presence felt.
The Indian gets the message. “ Basi toto, sasa sema nini taka wewe.”
“Nipe chips na kuku, na cocacola.”
“Kama nataka tena ntakwambiya.”
The child goes ahead and enjoys his meal, with a spoon and fork in hand.
After ‘the mother of all meals’, the child comes out of the restaurant,
sweating from the food he ate and the pilipilis he added to his meal.
He can hardly breathe, even though the pant’s hook has been released. He
then goes to makadara and spend the rest of the evening and night
before he goes home and sleep with a big smile on his face. In the
makadara the boy does his ‘tawaaf’ looking for his friends and walking
with them, or just strolling and showing off to the children of the
opposite sex. If he saw one that he wants to impress he may do things to
draw her attention, like doing a dare devil act of going on a bembeya
ya spaki and tries to hold the person seated ahead of him and kicks him
high and tries to grab him again when the swing is in high motion;
others will get into the bembeya za kitanda and just shout for no reason
when they are up to draw the attention of the people on the ground………..
Oooh those were the days, when Eid really had a meaning, and you always
look forward for the next one.