“You have a tendency of running away”

This is my mum’s opening remark every time she has a complain to launch or a battle to pick up with me.

Today, it was complains about how unschooled I am because I haven’t married education the way she did, the way she wanted me to…..it’s true, I always submit my assignments in time and am punctual at the exam rooms….but that is as far as it gets. I rarely attend lectures because there is always something better to do; I rarely do class assignments because Google always does it for me and most often than not, I don’t know the names of my lecturers. This, to my mum, is lack of educational etiquette and setting a bad example to Samurian, my daughter.

So, today when she started the long sermon, which fluctuates to lecture, to testimony and back to sermon,……I started to run…

My destination unknown, the long adventure started. At Ruiru, I chose a random “matatu”. It had a board that said something like Kibichoi (that is the only word I can remember)…and I made that my destination….and a learning experience began.

The Ruiru by-pass road is smooth, newly constructed up to a place with a junction that nobody in the matatu knew the name to. After we left the by-pass, we started another story line ….the “normal” Kenyan nightmare of extremely rough roads….this one I believe was headed to Githunguri-kwa-Maiko. After a kilometer and a half, we diverted again taking a road that I was told went to Waka and beyond…and here too, we started another story line; the actual start of the story for that matter!

The road to Waka is covered with expansive lands abundant with coffee and the occasional farm hosting acres of macadamia plants. This section of the road is earthen but smooth and the scenery is ever so green and inviting. It is made more beautiful by the man-made dams that snake up after every five hundred meters.

On reaching Waka, the Kenyan Constitution and any other by-laws therein cease to exist…every traffic rule I know of is blotted by both the matatu crew and the passengers.

A single seat had to be occupied by five passangers and the co-driver seats had to be occupied by three people. As if that was not overload enough, the conductor and four other persons had to hang at the door for the matatu to be declared full and for us to move on!! For those asking whether it did…YES IT DID!! A fourteen seater matatu had 29 adults and four small kids in it…and a whole marikiti market on top!!!

The road was another story all together! It seems like Kenyan potholes are manufactured here and exported to other parts of Kenya. At a point, I think the pothole was almost a metre deep and still the vehicle snailed through; how it did, I never will understand…but I choose to leave that to its professionals: the people of Waka-Kibichoi-Kagumo and wherever else that road leads to.

As we went further towards the interior, more people (including women and professionals such as teachers and priests, people I could tell did not belong to the farming sector) kept adding themselves into the vehicle such that people had to carry one another. By the time we reached Kibichoi, the mat had a total of thirty three adults and four kids. I could not alight as I was seated at the far back seat and to the right wall at that…since I had no particular business to do at a small trading center that Kibichoi turned out to be, I agreed to alighting at Kagumo, what they were describing as “the town”. So we proceeded to Kagumo but by the time we got there, I had a rosary that I can’t tell where I got it from, much less because am not catholic! The overly overloaded vehicle was on a speed slightly above 80kph on their “smooth” road…what they call smooth is what we call rough…to them, Thika road is not a highway but a miracle!! If Rongai is diaspora, then Waka-Kibichoi-Kagumo is somewhere beyond planet Saturn!!

Kagumo, their major town, is a novelette. It has most of the elements of an urban residence except that it lacks in industrialization and is majorly an agricultural center than anything else. The only bank they have is a single SACCO office that doubles as a centre for KCB mtaani, a few butcheries, several shops and pharmacies….and no hospital or dispensary. As expected, everything is super inflated at the pharmacies and most of the shop commodities that are not agriculturally generated.  They have a single fast food joint that looks a little classy and which is left to the professionals, the bankers and the teachers, as they are seen to be the most privileged lot within that society and who hold all the prestige that comes with been a little bit educated above the rest and who are only equaled by the old wazees who have accumulated wealth through their coffee farms. The life and standards of farm life are what dominates these areas and of course, like any other part in central province, sub-standard pubs dominate. They have a market that sells everything so cheaply. Compared to the prices am used to at Nairobi and its suburbs, they sell their commodities for free yet this is way beyond what many can afford!!

Young men trying to prove how much of men they are, are seen around doing too much of nothing beyond un-informed politics…”kamungetho” is what they call this groupings and they group themselves in terms of age and circumcision year.

After seeing enough, I decided it was time to go back home. My daughter and mom being the major factors of consideration, I just could not board the outrageous matatus, so I opted for a motorbike as I would rather pay expensively and be safe…anyway not that it had any difference considering I had paid 150 for the matatu and I paid 250 for the motorbike and the ride too could be added to my basket of experience.

As we cruised through the coffee plantations, I realized one thing: all this land belong to a single research group I heard of today; the KOFINAN LTD…how comes I know of KARI, KEMFRY, AFMA etc etc but nowhere, not in books or the internet, have I ever heard or read about this KOFINAN yet they occupy at least a quarter of Githunguri area? They seem to be specializing in coffee at a very large scale and macadamia nuts at a very small scale…the ratio, huh??

  The bike ride was worth every cent. The scenery was awesomely amazing, the wind on my face reminded me of the days I used to be a jockey and brought back a strong yearn in me to be near a horse, to feed it with fresh carrots and special farm smelling oatmeal and at the bare minimum mount on it even if for a second. But above all, it made sure that that was not my last adventure because I am home safe and sound.

As I keep going through what I heard in that matatu (because apparently, everybody knew who was who and from where), and all the events of today, a single question keeps racing through my mind: “who is a Kenyan and to what extent is he/she protected by the Kenyan constitution?”

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3 thoughts on “EXPLORING THE “UNKOWN” PARTS OF GITHUNGURI

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