If you live in the city whose headmaster is one Mbuvi Sonko you are either a mzaliwa or a product of rural urban migration. A mzaliwa is a person who was born and brought up in the city under the sun. A mzaliwa is also known as a born tao. A mzaliwa is supposed to be tough because when he opens his mouth he says serious things that belong in history books. He will narrate stories of that age when the city under the sun was like a shopping centre in Kapedo. He will pinpoint the public toilet that came up first. He will know what driver was awarded what for overturning a Kenya Bus. A mzaliwa knows when the buildings were short and the roads were narrow. He knows when the a nganya was an ugly metal box. A mzaliwa is tough because he was hiding and seeking at Uhuru Park when fellows like Wizard were swimming in Rutui River in Kiandutu.
But for one fellow I would be in the club of wazaliwa. I would be the one telling how Patrick Shaw somersaulted while shooting like James Bond. Ladies and gentlemen, that man is Munyotoku wa Mung’aru, the father of yours truly.
Munyotu happened to be a msapele original which means that he had fallen in love with the shilling before he was born. In other words, an investigation into his genes would reveal a high affinity to the shilling. Munyotoku wanted to become the first real sonko in Kiandutu from sweeping the streets of the city under the sun. Wisdom told him that if you are not in a position to misappropriate funds your only chance at becoming a real sonko is to launch the Okoa Shiringi drive. The drive involves declaring a curfew once the shilling takes shelter in your wallet.
To make sure that Okoa Shilingi drive worked Munyotoku did all the shopping. He developed an allergy for anything remotely associated with the word ‘luxury’. These included margarine, beef and sugar among other items. Wisdom also told Munyotoku that machozi ya samba should be a favourite to anyone dying to become a Bill Gates. For those not in the know machozi ya samba is a close relative of tano tano, busaa and a distant relative of Tusker and Guinness.
Things became elephant when Munyotoku visited the local shop one cold morning and the shopkeeper told him that an animal called inflation had knocked some clout off the shilling in the course of the night so that a loaf of bread cost an extra five cents. The shopkeeper did not stop there. He told Munyotoku that owing to the long running nationwide go-slow staged by cows in protest to drought a packet of milk would cost him ten cents more.
The bad news made Munyotoku make a guttural sound like an engine that was about to knock. Back in the day the shilling had such guts a five cents jump in price was a big deal. To Munyotoku it was Goldenberg. The msapele wisdom in his head told him that waking up to give the shopkeeper fifteen cents more for a loaf of bread and a packet of milk was smooth robbery. In the spirit of Okoa Shilingi, Munyotoku recalled the yams rotting away in the banks of Rutui River in Kiandutu. His brain was doing an Usain Bolt and soon it recommended that it is high time he owned a milk factory in form of a cow. However, rearing a cow and accessing the yams in Kiandutu would not come easy because Mama Wizzy had long declared deportation to ushago a crime against humanity. Mama Wizzy always reminded him that one of her conditions for forming a coalition with him was that when others visited ushago during Christmas she should always be among them. In other words to her ushago was a place where people retire or get buried.
Being a vessel of brave blood Munyotoku knew better than to tell his rib that he was terrified by the price of bread and a packet of milk. It so happened that in the course of his long campaign to woo Mama Wizzy into a coalition he had promised her a tap of fresh milk. To admit that a packet of the same was giving him nightmares would be a shame. But Munyotoku was not about to give up on his dream of becoming a real sonko. That is why he recalled the wisdom of taking the newest warrior in the Nderi clan, yours truly, to Mung’aru wa Nderi for ‘spitting in the chest’ which is the Kiandutian way of saying to bless. Spitting in the chest meant more than the Kenya-Somali wall because it would keep off terrorists, stray bullets, ngetasmiths and all known and unknown diseases making sure that young Wizard died of old age. Mama Wizzy was overwhelmed by Munyotoku’s genius and that is why she told him, ‘Niko ndani ndaani ndaaani!’
Munyotoku felt motivated and that is why he advised Mama Wizzy to leave two days early so that she could conduct a proper Meet the People tour of the vast Nderi clan. Happy to have married Solomon’s incarnate, Mama Wizzy was seen headed for the Land of Jiggers early the following day. On arrival she embarked on a campaign to mobilize a reception party for Munyotoku.
You can imagine Mama Wizzy’s shock when, early Saturday morning, a lorry full of household goods drove into the compound and the driver said amusing things to the effect that the goods belonged to her. Mama Wizzy told him that she hated jokes in the morning particularly when she has not taken breakfast. Her mouth came to the assistance of her eyes at the sight of her bed on the lorry. Her visco madiaba dress was peeping from one of the bags. Needless to say, Mama Wizzy felt energised to call Munyotoku names and popcorn was not one of them. Back in the day the quickest means of calling someone nasty things who was a hundred kilometres away was sending a letter. If you were lucky the letter would reach the addressee a month after. In some cases it got lost on the way.
Ladies and gentlemen, that is how Mali ya Mungu lost his chance of being a mzaliwa.