I wake up at 8 am today. A record. You all know I wake up at 10 am on Saturdays. It’s getting harder and harder to wake up at that time nowadays. I have made a pact with myself that I will not neglect friendships in the name of resting away during the weekend. So I wake up, dillydally in the warmness of the blankets, chat with a friend, let miss cat join me as usual and then I finally make it out at 8:30 am. Someone congratulates me for waking up that early. Well in. I am up because I am headed for a wedding. A wedding I cannot fail to attend. Hannah’s wedding. If you frequent this blog, you know Hannah. Hannah almost always is the one who comments first on my posts. If she doesn’t do it here, she will do it on my Hangouts.
Sema kuchoka. Yesterday was a big day for mum and dad. 25 years down the line, they were at my cucu’s (mum’s mum) for ngurario or gutinia kiande. Relax, I will proceed to tell you what the ceremony involves and why I could not write about it yesterday. It is basically the last ceremony in the dowry paying process.
I love Sundays. Sundays are the days I just chill out and enjoy the freedom. On good Sundays (most of them are good), I am lady Shiku. I don dresses. And heels. Just to remind myself how it feels like to be a real girl. And it feels good. This Sunday, I wake up later than usual. Mum does not wake me up with a phone call as usual. No, I have not moved out. Yes, she calls me every Sunday morning from the other side of the wall. When phone calls act as alarm clocks.
I am so sleepy. Why, sun? Why couldn’t you just rise a little later today?
I am back with some more Kikuyu songs/rhymes from my childhood years. I noticed lots of you loved them and keep searching. Seriously, that was the life. I made mum and dad sing them and they did, joyfully, to the amusement of my baby bro and sis who have never heard most of them before. Needless to say, I had forgotten some words. I am old, people. You should see the white hairs on my head.
In the world of social media, today is #ThrowbackThursday. So I am going to make some Thursdays the same here too. I love history. I also love it when I remember stuff from way back (way back being my very long 24 years of existence). Unfortunately, sometimes I forget. Fortunately, I have this blog to document stuff and the Internet never forgets. So today, I am going down memory lane with some of the Kikuyu songs my dad and mum taught me and my brother as kids.They doted on us a lot. They dote on my younger brother and sister too (who came years later) but they have no knowledge of the songs I am about to write here. I guess parenthood changes as you grow old and get used to it.
Here are five songs I remember from my childhood. There are more but let’s leave those for another day. My dad came up with them all the time. Some I am not even sure were actual songs in the Kikuyu community. He may have made them up for all we know. If you know them, you can sing them out loud, don’t be shy. And if you know some popular ones from back in the day, you can go ahead and share, regardless of tribe.
Mwarimu witu teacher
Niweka uru bad
Ni kwira ciana children
Cithie mugunda garden
Cikaune mbembe maize
Itari na rutha permission
You have done bad
To tell the children
To go to the garden
To harvest maize
This has never made sense to me by the way. I figured if the teacher told the children to harvest the maize, how did they not have permission? Maybe the garden did not belong to the school or the teacher… Makes sense.
Ungienda guthoma cukuru umenye
Ni kwaria githungu o kiugo kiugo
Teacher ni mwarimu
Chair ni giti
Window ni diricha
Arm ni guoko
If you want to study in school
You have to speak in English, word for word
Mwarimu is teacher
Giti is chair
Diricha is window
Guoko is arm
Njeri koma, wakoma ningugwita,
Ngurugire ngima ina cama
Waigua ngima, ni kindu kiri murio,
Kiri murio, ta uki wa njuki
Njeri sleep, if you sleep I will call you
I will cook for you sweet ugali
Ugali is something very sweet
Very sweet, like the bee’s honey
Kaguku ga Bauro ni kaumire kiaga,
gagitenyera na au githakaini
Bauro agitenyera na ndakanyitire,
Gagikora mbwe na gicuthi kinene
Ko-ko-ko, kaguku kau gakiuga
Ko-ko-ko, ndigacoka mucii ringi
Paul’s little chicken left the coop
and ran to the forest
Paul ran after it and did not catch it
It found a fox with a huge tail
Ko-ko-ko, the little chicken said
Ko-ko-ko, I’ll never go back home again
This also makes no sense and I presume my dad probably made it up. How do you meet a fox that will gobble you up in a second then decide never to go back home? Isn’t that like the complete opposite of what you should do?
Kanyoni kanja, kanyoni kanja
Gekugwa nja na mitheko
Ndakoria atiri, ndakoria atiri
Wamichore watinda ku?
Ndatinda Koiri, ndatinda Koiri
Na mbirigiti, na mbirigiti
Na ndinainukia magoto
Magwa iriaini, magwa iriaini
Gwa cucu wa Kamerukia meru!
Little bird, little bird
Fell outside with laughter
I asked it, I asked it
Striped one, where have you been?
I have been to Koiri, I have been to Koiri
Spreading (no idea what mbirigiti is)
And I have not brought home banana fibre
They fell into the lake, they fell into the lake
At grandma’s of Kamerukia meru!
We can now all laugh at my weak attempt at direct translation which finally led to the discovery that I may not know Kikuyu as much as I would have loved to. 😀
Do you know some songs from your childhood? It would be pretty neat to learn some from other tribes.
Happy Throwback Thursday to you!
Is there something wrong with speaking in your vernacular in a public place? What exactly makes it wrong? It is a language like any other. Personally, Kikuyu is the first language I learnt so I know it better. I love it.
I will even write in Kikuyu, which most people my age cannot for some reason. I will write it on social media. There those that get offended when this happens. I still do not get why they get offended. I am not speaking ill of anyone when I do.
In fact, that is where the problem lies. We tend to assume that when someone speaks in their vernacular, they are trying to hide something. The assumption is actually valid since there are many who do it to hide insults aimed at other citizens who will not understand them.
But we have to understand one thing, this is Kenya. It is a country where English is a second or even third language to majority of its occupants. It is not like some other countries where only one or two languages are known across its boundaries. We, therefore, cannot carry out communication like we live in one of those countries. Kenya is made up of over forty tribes which come with their own distinct language. I would like to believe that each of them is proud of their mother tongue and would not want to extinguish it in favour of another.
Loving your language is not being tribal. I am not saying that one should walk into a public office and speak to the receptionist in their mother tongue. First of all, there is no guarantee that she or he will understand you. Second of all, it is shows how narrow-minded you are. It is a shame to go speaking to everyone in the country in your language just because you think it is ‘the third national language’.
Coming from Kikuyu, I know first-hand how everyone assumes everyone in the place is Kikuyu. I would understand an elderly man or woman talking to me in their first language but not any other person. In the market, shops, churches there will always be that Kikuyu cropping up to pass the message better. I imagine how it feels like for another person who does not understand the language.
I quit imagining how it feels like to that person when I began my studies in Eldoret. Here, Kalenjin is predominant. There are times I sit in a matatu and feel totally lost because the radio is blasting out things I do not know and locals around are engaged in conversation I cannot understand. Even in the office scenario, I have experienced this. At the beginning, I used to get very uncomfortable and mad.
Then I remembered where I come from. This is exactly what goes on and since I am on the side that comprehends everything, I never find it awkward.
It is no longer 1800 where our forefathers spoke in their language because they lived in tribal villages with the occasional interaction with another community through the silent trade and such. It is the year 2012, where a lot of us have gone to school and have been taught that Swahili is the national language as well as the official one alongside English.
It is not wrong to talk to someone who understands what you are saying in whatever language. It is, however, wrong to use your tongue to harass another, just because you feel untouchable in the reality of their not knowing what it means until they source for translators.
It is not wrong to be proud of your language; it is, after all, part of your heritage. There is nothing wrong with updating your status or tweeting in it. It only becomes a problem when you realize that translating it to someone will unearth something you want to hide.
There are so many things that only come out best in your native language. That is something that will never change.
In this same nation, there are those of us who were born by two parents who speak two different languages and hence know neither or both. How beautiful, a mash-up of two native languages, right? Yes, it is 2012 and a child can live in a community without necessarily speaking their language because there are national languages to enhance interaction. (I smile when I think of my future children. I will certainly not let language, and more specifically tribe, dictate who their father will be.)
Unity in diversity is beautiful. That is what Kenya is. Beautiful because even in the midst of all those languages, we still interact peacefully and even learn other languages in the process. I know a few words in Kalenjin. It feels so nice because you realize that a language is not necessarily a barrier if you embrace it with a learning attitude.
I love my language. I love songs sang in my language. Songs are powerful. A song made me write this post. A song I found hilarious at first and laughed so hard because I thought it was stupid.
Then I remembered that music is powerful and there are specific people who listen to the song and continue keeping grudges because a musician they respect says they should. And let us not forget the politician who stands on a podium and insults a rival in his or her language when the rest of the speech had been made in Swahili.
They could do it to connect with the crowd, which is human. But misusing that connection is downright shameful.
Use whatever language you choose wisely. In any case, an insult in English is still an insult in Kikuyu. Mind your language.
Maybe I am too young to talk about men but I believe I have seen enough to give my two cents.
When I was young, I was told, as is popular Kikuyu custom, that a boy becomes a man when he is circumcised. Then I used to ask myself, even as that little girl, whether it made sense because there many other people who circumcise babies who are a few days old. Anyway, let me not define who a man is and go straight to what I have studied.
First of all, no one should label this post a description of himself (I am always amazed at how fast someone will think I wrote a post because of him. Of course there is always a catalyst but trust me, it is not you. Moving on…), I am just stating years’ worth of research.
I ceased trying to understand men a while back, when mum told me something scary and I really wondered why she did. I will not deny that a man can make your day; he can also break it as fast. So far, these are the ten men I have encountered:
The Egomaniac – He will say he wants to work to get the approval of a girl but in the end, if I play hard to get, he will give up too soon. Either that or he will try so hard until he will eventually hate me if I do not become his.
The Optimist – On the brighter side, this one will still be my friend but something will always be off.
The Avenger – This one will be patient enough until I will eventually say yes. He plays along with this newfound success then ensures he leaves when it looks like it will hurt, like some sort of payback for putting him through the whole endurance test.
The Experimenter – Then there is the rare occasion where I like him in an instant then it turns out he was trying the whole thing out and when he finds that it is reciprocal, he gives some excuse like he is not ready for commitment or something to that effect.
The Hunted – Yet another scenario may play out where I notice him first then he discovers my covert interests and tries to see what he can get out of it. When it is not forthcoming, he hits the road.
The Sympathy Seeker – This one will come with a story about how a friend of mine did some disrespectful things to him. Here I am supposed to act all sympathetic and act as the backup plan. No thank you.
The Play-it-safe man – He tried once, he failed. He goes under for months, years even then he comes back with the tale of how he is still waiting on me. I always figure he tried elsewhere and it backfired on him.
Mr. Moneybags – He thinks that simply because he has money, there is no way a girl can say no to him. Get over yourself.
Prince Charming – He is everything, almost. He is so sweet that I am always wondering whether he is human. How do I intentionally get on your nerves and you still keep your cool?
The One – He will be described one day because I do not know who he is yet.
All these men make life entertaining but I am a bit selfish. When I sense something will go terribly wrong, I bail before anything serious develops. Someone even told me that I will end up alone if I never give room to those small heartbreaks.
So maybe one day, I may take my chances and seek for an eleventh man, the one who waits for a girl to initiate the game. I wonder if he exists. Plus I consider it totally taboo to approach a man. Taboo aside, I will tell him how much I think we would work and go ahead to work for his affection.
That will be the day it will snow in Nairobi.
The last time I posted something was over a month ago…shame on me. Anyway, as usual, I have been thinking. Clearly I do that a lot. This time I have been thinking about stuff in my little world that appears somewhere in the middle.
The very first thing that made do this is the song by Casting Crowns with a similar title. I sort of owe them that piece of creativity, slightly on the brink of plagiarism. Anyway, somewhere in the middle…
I thought about this a few hours ago when I was in the outside kitchen lighting up the firewood to place some heavy black sufuria on the stones. Yes, we have one of those at home, your typical Kikuyu family. Somehow, the home is not complete without it. That is why I thought about this. You see, I live in Kikuyu. (I was shocked to find out that some people in this country have no idea Kikuyu is a place. That is why I support the county edition through and through for educating the masses). Anyway, Kikuyu is neither rural or urban, it is just…somewhere in the middle.
Somewhere in this middle is a girl who has a lot of decisions to make every day, just like you and everyone else on earth. For instance, I am supposed to be in school as we speak. But I am not because I decided I would rather waste time at home than 310km away. That aside, I have been having serious pains around my head and teeth.
Funny thing is, this began when I got to school a few days ago. Believe it or not, even my closest friends claim it is a psychological condition. Sometimes, I think so too. But hey, I am the one in pain. Why would I make up pain? To come home? To get myself out of certain tasks? Come on, that is a stunt we all pulled in lower primary. When it was the only way we thought mum and dad would hear us out. As I suffer this little pain, I am torn between waiting for it to subside on its own or visiting a doctor or a dentist. I’m stuck somewhere in the middle…
In the middle of the 310km journey is Nakuru, the town that is growing rapidly. Right in the middle of the very smooth A104 road; somewhere between Eldoret and Nairobi, Nakuru is perfect. It is beautiful and not too far or too near the capital. There is the lake and breathtaking sites all round. An appealing residence for many, somewhere in the middle…
On the other hand, some other issues I had rather not mention here have put me at a crossroads. I do not know what to do because either way, the risks are high. Seating on the fence is safe, right? Maybe if you do it at the beginning stages of a potential relationship, it saves you a lot of misery. You want to know what you are getting into after all. But if it takes too long, you are doomed. Someone will go looking elsewhere, you will be left mumbling about how he or she was not meant to be yours. But how do you know if you did not give them a chance while you were stuck in the middle?
So what is the point of being stuck somewhere in the middle if I do not enjoy a benefit? From my analysis it seems the only things that are perfect in the middle are places, like Kikuyu and Nakuru. Period.
Somewhere in the middle, you will find me, but not for long. Because I have made up my mind, I will go see a doctor. I will take a stand when I feel something is not right. I will do this even when it makes me lose friends or followers (the Twitter phenomenon that has become a circus. No offence). I will make up my mind about who I will love.
Somewhere in the middle…you will not find me.