Why do people work? Why is the old woman who sells nyanya and mboga at the kibanda close to home always at it? The matatu driver, by the way they are better drivers, ever on road? Early in the morning, you find a child barely ten years of age struggling with a backpack full of textbooks and exercise books. They do it faithfully day by day. Religiously. You wonder if you should sympathise with them because it’s like they are telling backpack palsy, “Come baby come “. What do they write in all those books anyway? I don’t know who came up with this idea that people must write notes so that you make your books clever at the expense of your brain. Don’t be deceived. You must write! You need it for association. Your guess is as good as mine. This frenzy could just be all about looking for new money.
I’m always fascinated by how people behave when new money has arrived. Money they didn’t have. You don’t need to read a manual; someone to come from somewhere to tell you how funny people can be or attend some long boring seminars though in the serene ambience of some hotel to learn how people handle new money with newfound prominence or they are handled by it. I recall one of my teachers saying that you don’t require someone to come from a “big school ” to tell you that starch turns blue-black when you add iodine solution for it wouldn’t change the fact. That seemed a polite way of dismissing external facilitators who pocketed new money just for delivering a two-hour talk.
The cast of characters I call my friends and the few strangers I have engaged in a conversation or two about new money have always shared a common view point. They are of the idea they’ll be “motivated” to do “new things” when new money has arrived. Some of the so called things, they never used to do before.
One Mkuki Tingisha had this to say. Say you are the Del Monte guy. It’s a weekend. You’re lying on the sofa catching up with the latest updates on football, rugby, food whatever. You grab your not so old Samsung gadget , scroll through the contact list and remember you were supposed to have a meeting with the boys. So you swipe right and there you are reminding Achupa of the should be meeting. He seems to be wary of the same and suggests that you should meet in one of the local meeting joints. Your wife is out. She has gone to attend one of those meetings they call chamas. I have never come to terms with what they discuss there. This time you’ll belt up in peace. Pull a belt moment and these ladies will immediately start bothering with where you are headed to as if they want to accompany you. They’ll make you live in a bubble.
Achupa being the self-proclaimed leader of the crew had earlier contacted your other friends Ogun, Onduso and Chiela. Your are full house. How you saunter while getting into the whatever place is an announcement of agile young men probably in their early or late twenties ambao Mungu amewaonekania. Very choosy you grab strategically positioned seats. It’s pretty obvious you will be scheming. For what anyway? Ogun should not be that hawk which will snatch your meat when you are just about to feast. It wouldn’t be a nice show if a brawl ensues. The meeting has started and guys are really swallowing the Queens language . A by-stander would be forgiven for mistaking you for officials sent on a high-end mission by some English based agency.
Throats are running dry and your friends say they need something to cool their mucous membranes. So Achupa and company will order the most expensive drinks on the menu. New money at work.Now it’s your turn a Del Monte guy who has only been drinking krest with his wife. Onduso tells you that time is running out and there are certain things you haven’t done. He is eagerly waiting to see if you will call for a fanta baridi. You tell the waitress to bring Del Monte along with a glass. Chiela is so amused. So he picks up your glass half filled with that thing you ordered for and asks, is this drink alcoholic? Everyone breaks into sarcastic laughter. You begin asking yourself whether you’ve committed a sin –richo– which may warrant cleansing via excommunication. You choose to stay composed like nothing out of the norm happened and you are back to business.
Tingisha told me that his prayer is that he is never caught in such awkward situations. He also knows that when new money has arrived a number of tiny skirts may start chasing him the way butterflies hover around a certain sweet scented flower in our backyard . He is afraid he may suffocate with all that estrogen.
When you want to tell that new money has arrived it’s easy. I’ll spare the ladies for this because I love my peace and Nyar Got will rob me of the same if I write anything about her here. For the gentleman, arrival of new money is usually heralded by aggression and a certain degree of impulsiveness . A young man who has landed a rewarding job with some international NGO can easily cause commotion in the estates. I tell you. Their predilection for acquiring a ” first car ” is very high. It will be branded various names like ” the beast “. I have tried to check if there is anyone who says” kula jasho lako ” but to no avail. That is meant to signify the impetus with which rubber will be put on road. They are racers. You will not miss a high end Sony sound system in the same. There is some magic in Sony – make believe. I mean the ones which soothe your ears with crisp quality sounds. Close to 3D.
When they go back to the village. Their presence cannot go unnoticed. One they will come in broad daylight. They will make sure that the driver and co-driver’s windows are down. When they hit those village murram roads, they will be cruising at 40-50km/h. The guy at the car wash had the best of intents to ensure that the car is envied when it lands in the village by doing his job close to perfectly. However, the dust on the murram roads will not spare an inch on the car’s sleek body. She will be slapped with a lot of injustices. From the porridge-like mud to the potholes. Her German shocks will come in handy. But still the young chap will still ensure the village is startled. If she is a right hand drive car the better. They will drive in such a manner that the steering will be held with the left hand while the right hand will be resting atop the driver’s door with the elbow projecting outwards at an angle. What Tingisha calls the “Greater than though phenomenon“. Before I forget, if their ancestry is Luo, a fresh Tilapia straight outta L. Victoria will be dangling precariously on one of the side mirrors. An emblem of authenticity.
I told you the whole village will be stirred up. Why? Children some walking half naked, others with only an oversized T-shirt that serves as a top and doubles as a short will be there to witness the arrival. In fact the car will be scrutinised from all angles. And remember the disgrace dust did the car. Another cheeky child wouldn’t hesitate to damage your hard earned dignity by scribbling a ” please wash me” plea on the rear windshield. It doesn’t end there. These kids are clever and very creative so they will accomplish the mission the ants envisioned while building the anthill. Clay will be harvested and moulded to assume the shape of your vehicle. Then they will act the part.
How they alight of the machine would be so dramatic. It’s never the hurly-burly of a junior who is late for an important meeting with their boss. After bringing the car to a halt in the compound. Don’t forget they will always park in reverse. A polite way of saying that they are very busy and wouldn’t be staying for long. In essence there’s nowhere they are really going. Akin to those funny consultants who will walk into a ward, observe a patient under review for less than 2 minutes and dish out instructions. Put him on Diazepam … Phenobarbital and then walk away. To no where in particular. They just want you to acknowledge that they have said it and walked away. Maybe there is something heavenly in doing that which I’m yet to find out. Back to our drama. The right foot will land on the ground first. And then slowly a made man will come out. The car will spring up. Heavyweight. It will all be ceremonious. No slamming of doors here. So they will close the door with utmost gentility . They’ll take a few yards back and press a magical gadget. From a distance, the car will achieve a locked status. A funny sound will be heard accompanied with funny lights. This will ‘catch the mouth‘ of every onlooker.
The kind of attire they adorn on such occasions is an innuendo that in the near future they will likely be vying for some political position. It’s so nice how they handle and interact with the village folk lest the latter start “beakering” of how the son of Jo’kang’ane ( akina nani?) nowadays thinks he has reached. They will always be flaunting a flagship device. They’ll almost invariably clad a pair of blue denim jeans, a pair of Berluti Andy leather loafers, a corduroy jacket complete with a Casio Edifice wristwatch. So you will that learn new money has arrived!
That aside. Arrival of new money comes with a certain degree of impatience which will override the calm individual you always knew. They will be so uneasy in places where people are required to queue or in any place where procedure should be followed save for a few who would otherwise flash out their gadgets and peep on those WhatsApp groups. Where someone added them to without their due consent. Look, I’m that kid whose teacher said will not make it in life yet I’m the admin of seven WhatsApp groups. They do not want a minute to go unaccounted for. They will be very impatient people.
Once or twice they must clash with others. Don’t cross someone’s path at this time. Reminds of one parent, a pilot whose son brought a phone to school. A phone was a contraband. A non school item. Therefore, being in possession of one was a breach of school rules and tantamount to jeopardy of the school standards. The consequences would be dire. Filling a 100kg sack with grass is hard. Plus someone would be right there to ensure whenever the sack attempted to fill, they squashed your efforts by pressing it down. Then you start to think whether there is a sin your ancestors committed or the gods had conspired against you. The child was sent home to bring the father. Of course the dad came along with his son. When the dad heard that he was needed in school just because his son had a phone he was so annoyed a man . Why? If giving his son a phone, he had been doing so since the gentleman was in lower primary. Why should a head teacher waste his time while he had been booked for a flight to South Africa anyway. New money.
When new money has arrived anywhere ; kindly be willing to share with me. I need to complete this story. Thank you in advance.
Images courtesy of : Bagaza