21 Bantu Street.


Once upon a time in the year two thou and something i started feeling more and more like less and less. My soul got restless to a point it was just swinging on a pendulum between different spiritual beliefs. Ultimately i did settle on one, something i could at last hold in my hands and say, yes, this is it. I mean, we all want to be part of something big which gives us a sense of accomplishment, no?

Not that the change was unwelcome or unlike my clan’s way of life, no. it was just that it embraced me the same way and totally turned me into something else, a better reloaded version of myself.

On top of this and largely thanks to my absentee fathers’ genes, i no longer looked like anything of a Bantu; many confused me for a Cushite. It actually amazed most people when i spoke in my mother tongue.

Let me tell you about my tribe, the Bantus. We are a bunch of calculating, vicious hunters and gatherers who emigrated from Cameroon or thereabouts. Am not certain why we left that area, perhaps the climate wasn’t conducive for the development of our species, or maybe there was another kind of tribe who were in completion with us.

So, like the gentlemen we are we packed up, left and headed South going round the Congo, dined heartily with the pigmies there and ultimately found our way to our current position in Kenya.

Bantus unlike the Maasai are not extremists when it comes to sourcing for meals. I mean, hunting and especially gathering is not a task which requires bravado and a killer instinct; it does not take a million guts to walk into the jungle and gather random stuff like wild berries, steal Ostrich eggs, hunt Guinea fowl etcetera. We are devoid of such drama as assassinating Lions just for the heck of it.

I promise you we are getting somewhere with this.

In tandem with my new way of life my soul took to distant travels, never staying at one place for more than a few months. I would yearn for a different place and find my way there, gave my soul a lot of satisfaction to lay my head in strange hearths, my eyes found comfort and solace in new sights and scenery.

One of these places happened to be Lower Kabete, a fertile area amid a lot of greenery deep in Kikuyu land just a valley away from my birthplace.

I got a crib way off the main road in an area infamous for rampant robberies mostly from a neighbouring slum. Definitely not the kind of place you would fancy venturing into past twenty one oh oh hours in as much as the campus students from Nairobi University were all over the place. Their presence did not offer any semblance of security since these students were potential targets for the local gangs. I mean, they all knew students had laptops, tabs, fancy smart phones and Gas cookers!

There was this day i left work way past twenty two oh oh hours, opted not to use the company car coz i feared for its safety and the fact that if i was seen with a car it would make me a potential target. I board a mathree in town praying and hoping that we pick up some students at the campus stage for company once i alight at Kabete. That was not to be the case.

Only one middle aged man alighted with me and he seemed as suspicious of me just like i was of him. I gathered courage and considering the darkness we were just about to emerge ourselves into i managed to start a conversation with him hoping he would be my company till the end of the road. Perhaps we could forge a friendship based on fear as a common denominator.

He wasn’t much of a conversationist, said he got home late almost every other day and the path we were treading homewards was dangerous, very dangerous. He told me how a bunch of thugs had jumped him at a maize plantation (pointing to it) and it was just by sheer luck he escaped unharmed.

After a few metres he branched off and left me with a piece of advice;

safest way to get home my friend, grab two stones, one for each hand and if someone dares come close and you feel the hairs on your neck rise, hit him with both stones and run faster than the wind. And please don’t forget to scream as you flee!

With that he opened his gate and disappeared into more darkness as his dogs barked in welcome.

I almost asked him for one of his dogs to accompany me home.

There is just something entirely unsettling about being robbed, or jumped in the street. It bruises a one’s ego and self esteem, makes you an object of sympathy and pity, vengeance becomes your breakfast however unlikely of you ever executing it. You just live with the stigma of knowing that another man, definitely lower in statue and morals jumped you and there is nothing you can do about it.

Fast forward, barely a month from that night. I travelled to Mombasa for a few days and when i got back i was greeted with an open door and an almost empty house. I was pretty certain i had locked and double checked it before i left. Apparently my tribesmen had ‘let’ themselves into my house and generously stripped it as if they had a shopping voucher from Tile and Carpet!

They had left the mattress at the door, was probably too heavy to carry so they just stepped all over it with their muddy boots (Kabete is a rainy place). For some funny reason they left the iron box and did not touch any of my books.

I did report the case though i knew nothing would come from it. Everytime i walked past a group of young men huddled in a corner smoking or just being idle i always got the feeling they were involved, especially when they ceased their conversation as i walked past.

I sensed that they were perhaps giving me a grace period to pick myself up, buy more stuff so they could come for another shopping spree…….

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3 thoughts on “21 Bantu Street.

  1. Pingback: 21 Bantu Street. | Akhy Mjanja

  2. Pingback: Mombasa lovin’ | Akhy Mjanja

  3. Pingback: Sometimes in April | Akhy Mjanja

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