Ever since the end of the rainy season, ever since the destruction of the village green house and the chief’s little baraza, Kombo’s heart bore the weight of the universe. It wasn’t because of the rains that had swept away three huts, thirteen cows, five goats and a toddler. It wasn’t because his alcoholic father was down with liver cirrhosis or that his elder sister Nyakara was a harlot who when ‘decent’ wore short skirts that squeezed her expansive thighs too tight she had trouble walking, a strapless top that let her breasts almost hang out loose for the ravenous eyes to feast on and heels which made her walk as if the ground was burning.
Entry 1, 14th September 2001
My name is Maria and today I became a woman. I became a woman of the society, a woman from filth. The other five girls and I were paraded in front of our mothers and fathers, slatted painfully in the joy of the crowd and became whole. The situation was neither embarrassing nor shameful. It was depressing, nonetheless. In between our tears and Mucus River, we became women. The soil drank us whole and felt fulfilled. They claimed we were of age because our breasts danced underneath our shukas. They argued that our bottoms which had started wobbling and dancing freely were getting unwarranted attention from the young men. They insisted that desire would fill us up and our legs would ramble apart, ushering us to sin.
Kazungu had only read about convictions and death penalties in books and newspapers, and it perpetually made his flesh crawl. On that awful day, he had asked his wife to confirm the clear and annoying sound that came from the car. He drove an old PEUGEOT-504 which had been passed down generations from his grandfather, a local chief to his father a palm wine tapper and finally ending its course of life with a middle aged teacher, whose students had nicknamed the “beetle” not because of how he looked or walked but how the car moved rapidly from side to side along the dusty paths of the village.
The ocean wavered, transferring its energy through gentle crests which crushed against the coral below us. The sound of the crushing waves fused with the cheerful laughter from my friends harmoniously. I zoned back in to the energy of my friends as they cheerfully tell stories, sipping away at their gahwa beneath the residential storey buildings shading us from the setting sun. The buildings gave way to a cemented patio that stood just at the edge of the corals with a railed ending; this made up the coffee joint. I loved my gahwa as sweet as they come.
There are many reasons why this small island is the African Hawaii. Timeless attractions such as lighthouse whose trademark is fresh crunchy kachri that one can eat Cliffside while watching the guy sliding his knife effortlessly on the hard coconuts. Fresh mahamri and viazi every morning and the bhajia, viazi and ukwaju in the evening at almost every corner. The warm breeze swaying around the towering palm trees all over the compact island. The vibrant culture pulsating through the ground and its people. The beautiful and breathtaking sandy beaches, crowded town streets where one can find handmade goods and really cheap second hand imports.
Mombasa is a fusion of culture, religion and language coexisting in perfect unity.
“Mama…?” alimaka Wanyika baada ya kuitwa na nyanyake na kuelezewa kuwa mgeni aliyewasili alikuwa mamake mzazi.
Jua lilikuwa limewaka sana na ulikuwa ni msimu wake wa mwezi wa Januari ambapo jua huwaka bila msamaha. Lilichoma kila jani, mimea ikakauka, shamba likabaki kavu na udongo kupasuka pasuka na kufanya machimbo makubwa makubwa kama mikorongo nyikani.
Mchana huo, Wanyika alikuwa akisanya mizizi ya viazi vitamu angalau yeye na nyanyake wapate chajio. Imekuwa ni siku ya nne sasa kabla ya kupata chakula cha haja cha kujaza matumbo yao. Mara nyingi walikunywa maji ya moto tu ili kudanganya matumbo yao na kulala. Na asubuhi ilipofika mpango ulikuwa ni kusaka vibarua kutoka kwa majirani angalau wapate posho. Haya ndiyo yaliyokuwa maisha ya Mgange Nyika, wakati wa msimu wa kiangazi. Matajiri walitoa vibarua aina kwa majirani zao na kuwapa kibaba cha posho kama malipo badala ya ngwenje.