VISA NA MIKASA……………ATA N’KWAMBIYE 21a!
My last Visa na Mikasa was supposed to be number 21, but I erred and
numbered it 22, therefore, I will number this one number 21. I thought I
should explain myself before getting tagged as a numerically challenged
character. It is not like I care being labeled as such, but I realized
that one need to be very careful since the September eleven. I said to
myself, jieleze mwanzo, au one nyangau is enough to report you as a
challenged individual and get you thrown in one of the handicapped
institutions. Now….back to this week visa na mikasa.
Since the world became a village, I am very sure that, a good number of
the world populous was talking about the Academy award. Among the many
programs that I do not watch, one of them is this one. The problem is,
even if you try to avoid watching it, you will not be successful in
keeping your ears from hearing about it or your eyes from reading the
newspaper. Talk about globalization. Even ones thinking and world
perspective is gradually getting globalized. My impatient reader is
probably getting irritated, ‘Come on Nuweisr, get to the story, enough
philosophy. What does the Academy Award have to do with Kenya?”
questions my impatient friend. Be patient my dear reader. Probably there
is no direct connection between the Awards and Kenya, but there are
movie theatres in Mombasa, and a good amount of the movies shown are
from the Hollywood; and here is where this week visa na mikasa comes in.
The Mombasa Island that I grew up in had a total of about seven movie
theatres. One of those seven was a Drive-in. Each one of these theatres
had a unique character that distinguishes it from the others. Starting
from the west side of the Island, there was the Drive-in. This one was
around Jomvu area. I don’t know if it had any other name other than
Drive-in. As the name implies, you have to own a car to get in. Coming
from a society whereby the neighborhood owns a car rather than an
individual, anytime that car had to be taken to the entertainment center
that was purposely built for it, the whole neighborhood will have to
budge in some of their hard earned Kenyattas (Moi was a none existent
entity then). Money had to be collected to pay for the gas, and for the
ticket to enter the theatre. This is usually done much ahead of time.
The movie may start at seven o’clock at night, while all the preparation
starts taking shape in the afternoon. I may have misled the reader when
I said that the whole neighborhood contributed to the halambee. The
ones that were involved were always male of a certain age group. You
always come across one or two characters, which, either they really don’t
have the money agreed upon, or just, want to have a free ride.
“Wallahi jamaa sina kitu mimi bwaanaaa.” Complains the potential free
“Oye, huyu jamaa sasa anzidi. Manake safari ile anleta stori hii hii,
tukamwatia, sasa ajidai hana tena, basi asende. Abakie hapahapa.”
Uttered the chronicler of events. The free rider does not want to be
left behind. He therefore decided to go and convince the most important
person in the whole trip-the owner and driver of the car. The driver
tries to avoid him, but to no avail. At the end, the driver caves in
with these words,
“ Skiza, wewe zungumza na jamaa, wakikubali ttakutwaa. Mimi sina
wasiwasi, la muhimu nataka nione gari lintiwa petroli, na pesa za
kiingilio zipo.” One important note that needs to be mentioned is that
the driver does not pay for his movie ticket. Since he volunteered to
give his car (most of the time it is his family business car), then the
rest of the group have to collectively put in something to cover for his
ticket. Somehow, the free rider always is able to get his way into the
group. Some of the strategies that had been used before by the free
rider were things like, since he is the only one in the group that can
speak and understand both Hindi and Urdu, it is important that he comes
with the group; otherwise the whole trip will be futile. These were the
days before subtitles were common in the movies. This time the gang
decided not to be easily convinced.
“oye skiza, snema ya leo ni ya kizungu, kwa hivyo hatukuhitaji. Lipa au
bakiya.” Commanded one of the guys. Just when the free rider was about
to give up, one guy comes up with an idea.
“Ttakutwaa lakini mwanzo toa chochote, pili, uioshe gari ikisha maliza
kazi zake, tatu uje na blangeti tukufinike.” Maybe I should explain why
all these conditions. The car needs to be washed because it is a pick-up.
During the day, the owner uses the car for his own business, either to
carry groceries from the farms to the market or distribute milk, or any
other business. Whatever the case, the car would need to be washed and
cleaned by the end of the day. Blame it on the ministry of
transportation for not maintaining the tarmac roads. The free rider
accepts all the conditions and keeps his words. As for the blanket, I
don’t want to go ahead of the story, therefore be patient and we will
see. Now the moment of truth arrives….
The pick-up leaves the neighborhood fully packed. At the front seat,
there are four people, the driver, and three other passengers who are
crammed together. One of the three passengers, Mr. Free ride, is seated
with his blanket. At the back of the pick-up, there are about seven or
more people. The Mazda pick-up, or Toyota, or Chevrolet, for that matter,
is literally pleading to the owner not to allow any more passengers. As
the car is heading west (since we are in Majengo), you could tell that
even if the car had some kind of warranty, in case anything breaks, the
insurance company are not going to pay a cent. One way or the other, the
car reaches the Drive-in. A long line up awaits the group. As the car
joins the line, the driver tells Mr. Free ride to make use of the
“Aaa si bado jamaa.” Mr. Free ride protested.
“Skiza hawa jamaa watuma mtu wao kuangalia magari yana watu wangapi
kabla hata hayajafika mlangoni. Sasa akija akihisabu akaona tuko kumi,
halafu mlangoni tukasema tuko tisia, hawatatuwata tuingie.” The driver
explained Mr. Free ride as to why he had to act immediately. Mr. Free
ride reluctantly moved out of his seat, and lied under the feet of the
other passengers. Then the blanket was put on top of him. To make
everything appear normal, the two passengers at the front put their feet
on top of the back of Mr. Free ride. On no time, a man came and started
to count the number of people in the car.
“ Ngapi” the man asked the driver.
“ Tisa” responded the driver.
“Moja, mbili, tatu….” The man started to count, “OK endelea” said the
man with satisfaction while recording the car’s plate number. As they
approached the ticket stall they were asked the same question again, and
the same answer was given. The ticket master just popped his head out
and made a quick count. He did his mathematics and gave the driver the
amount that is owed. The driver paid obediently without making any fuss.
Once they were inside, the driver pulled beside one of the speaker
stands. He plucked one of the speakers and gave it to the guys at the
back. Once they were satisfied that they were out of any danger, Mr.
Free ride was asked to get up. The first thing that Mr. Free ride did,
once he got up, was to get out of the car and stretch. Since the guys
did a favor to Mr. Free ride, they expect him to be more than willing to
do any errands in the Drive-in that anyone among the gang would like
done. Things like buying the popcorn, or soft drinks becomes the job of
Mr. Free ride. The rest was history. The whole gang waits for the movie
to start, and they watched the movie quietly. The trip back was mostly
To be continued………..