My phone rings at 6.00am GMT +12 and after picking, my boss requests me to change my day’s routine and join one of my colleagues in Napier to go help him tag the young Tuataras ‘this is the precious animals in this country resembling our wall gecko in Kenya’. I hurriedly take a shower, pack my camera and pick my car keys and rush out. I start the engine of old car nicknamed Becky, after my late grandma, who else in this town drives a 1999 Ford Festiva! Being the onset of winter, both the front and rear windows have frost, I rush back into the house and collect warm water to fasten the defrosting process, and it works! I turn on the engine, and the Tenda Wema mix by Dj Lyta picks up from where it stopped last night.
Before I turn into state highway 1, a lady shows me a thumbs up sign ‘apparently it means a request for free ride’ being a social being brought up in the social community in Nyakongo, I pull over and pick her.
Her: Hi I’m Shan, thanks for picking my shivering body!!!
Me: Hi, I’m Dennis
Shan: A little giggle Come again, you are who? (by now I’m in Highway 1, driving at 100kmh)
Me: Yeah, as you heard I’m Dennis
Shan: Sorry for sounding rude, but did you change your name as you came here or?
Me: (so she thinks I baptised myself after realising that I needed a white man’s name at age 29!!!) Nop, when I was born, the midwife peeped in-between my legs and shouted ”he is a baby boy’ there and there my mother shouted “God has given me Davison Chweya” but as my tradition holds, I should have sneezed by the mention of that name…..
Shan: (She interrupts) but you have told me you are called Dennis!
Me: Yeah, I was saying before you rudely interrupted me…
Shan: I’m sorry mate
Me: It’s alright….so from my kindergarten to year 4, I was using my middle name and my Surname (I wish i stack to that Chweya Mokaya!!) my teacher asked me why I didn’t have a baptism name. I responded I wasn’t baptised (she giggles and gives a sarcastic smile) why are you smiling?
Shan: heheheh you are funny, why did the teacher call it baptism name?
Me: (a flash of anger hits me) your ancestors, yeah your ancestors in the name of missionaries, came to our countries and told us that we replace our traditional names for your ancestors’ first names, that they called baptism names. But a study of my Bible, I can locate some names we called our kids like Sierra, Serena, Wallace and such.
Shan: Okay change of topic (she avoids the history behind her ancestors) where about do you come from.
Shan: So how far is Africa from Kenya? (I literally do a left shoulder check, to be sure she is serious)
Me: (Acting silly) It’s like 5hrs by flight and 24hrs by road.
Shan: Do you know John who used to work in Ministry of Construction in Auckland
Me: (God why have you allowed this to happen to me this early) So where are you headed to (I try not to answer)
Shan: Why are you not answering if you know John?
The problem with some people is to watch too many movies about
Africa without varying the facts.
The other issues is relying on international news
and online clips instead of going on safari in Africa for fact finding.
Me: So Shan, what do you know about Africa.
Shan: Africa is in a desert, with these malnourished kids (oops she thinks I came over while malnourished) and mature men &women walking naked in the villages.
Me: (by now we are headed into Levin after one hour drive, I increase the volume as sasa nangojea matoke “I’m now waiting for results” song starts to play) sasa nangoja matokeao kutoka kwako Jalali!!!
Shan: (She reduces the volume) Why aren’t you commenting on my description of Africa?
Me: (This lady needs at least 40hrs lecturing on the geography of our beautiful world, leave alone Africa) So if Africa is a desert, does it mean we don’t have roads, water, airports, vehicles, schools, and telephones leave alone things like social media?
Shan: Ok I’m sorry for irritating you
Me: Its alright my sister.
Shan: Can we please have some breakfast in that King burger (In Levin)
Me: As long as you pay for the two cups of coffee, cause I had no plans of having a cup of coffee (by now I was tired OF the lack of knowledge of this poor lady, so I was very causal in my talks)
I look for a parking space, and we move out.
Shan: I will have a cup of coffee and pineapple burger (she request me to buy it for her as she heads to the bathrooms)
Me: (at the ordering counter) 1 Pineapple burger, black coffee and a cup of Kenyan tea.
Lyn: (The lady at the counter) We don’t have Kenyan tea, but we have one from South Africa.
Me: What other tea brands do you have (I can’t promote South African tea, better I have one from India)
Lyn: We have one from India and the other one from Ethiopia.
Me: One cup from that Ethiopian brand (Shan, comes to the counter)
Shan: What is the problem, do you need a translator?
Lyn: No worries my dear, kindly have a seat for 10 minutes as we brew the tea and coffee.
At this moment, the Kisii and Luo influence in me tells me to check if the joint has some free internet and educate this lady on the beautiful part of Africa. After checking, I find one free wifi provide named ‘Zambezi Beer n Wines’ the problem, is that for me to access the services, I had to log onto my Facebook and share it to my TL, yet I Jesus is my saviour! I oblige in order to teach this lady the other side of Africa she doesn’t know.
Me: About your description of Africa, who taught you that?
Shan: My mother had this movie called “Hakuna Matata the lion king” such a lovely movies.
Me: Yeah it is one of the best teacher (I have never watched the movie), so you were not taught countries and continents in your school days?
Shan: hahahahaha what is that? A course or part of which subject?
Me: Part of lower primary curriculum!
Shan: Nop. In my lower primary, we were taught how to read, write, count, cook, draw and some basic computer skills. After that, the teacher identifies one’s strength and the rest is a career-defining path.
Me: So how do you know Africa exist and Europe?!
Shan: From revolution theory, kindly don’t ask for details.
Lyn calls my order ticket number, and I go to pick the breakfast.
Me: Enjoy your breakfast.
By now I have downloaded the following pictures of good things happening in my country.
Me: Shan, kindly swipe through the following photos as you seep your coffee, and guess where they were taken at.
I hand over my Apple tablet to her.
Shan: Did you teach yourself to use apple as you arrived here or you took lessons some months before you came over?
Me: Kindly go through the photos first.
Shan: (a biiiig letter O starts to form on her lips as she swipes through the following!) okay move here a tell more about the photos, when did you travel to Europe?
Me: Hehehe this is not Europe, this is Kenya my home country. (I start giving a precise description of the following photos, as per the footnotes per photo below)
Me: This is Garden City Mall, one of the many ultramodern malls we have in the country
Me: This is called Thika Highway
Me: ….this one too.
Me: My undergraduate university library, one of the best in the world.
Me: This is one of the building you will see if you come for a safari in Kenya
Me: Part of our Railway lane
Me: This one too.
Me: If you happen to use the train in Kenya, be sure you will enjoy the modern facilities here.
(Noticing that time was not on our side, I stopped the photo show, and requested we go as I was delaying my colleague)
Shan: (As I move into the highway) So you did not see the first bus here! and you said you have the undergraduate degree, so you are learned!
Me: Mmmmm. By the way, where are you headed?
Shan: (Ignoring my question) Do you also speak African language? Pardon me for my ignorance.
Me: We don’t have a language called African language. I’m willing to accommodate you if you promise to arrange for safari to Kenya (by now I feel she is suffering from exposure dwarfness).
Shan: Deal, give me your email, I will contact you once I’m ready. Kindly drop me in the next exit.
Me: (Pulling aside) Kindly enjoy the rest of your day.
Shan: Thanks, at least you have given a reason not to commit suicide!!
Me: What are you talking my dear?!!
Shan: Yeah, I flew over here to see my boyfriend, and he mistreats me and we had to call the relationship off. So this morning I had the plan of ending my life at the end of this road drive.
Me: (Applying my guidance and counseling skills) Can you promise to communicate at the end of the day after I’m done with my job, you tell me more?
Shan: Nop, I’m taking a flight back to Queenstown Australia and will start working towards my Kenyan safari, and only after acquiring my air ticket is when I will contact you. Dennis, any lady you have in your life, kindly promise me you will never hurt them.
Shan: Awesome bro (she hugs me and alights)
I zoom off. I increase the volume as Benachi ft Kaberere’s song “Mwanake’ breaks the silence in my car.