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The Visitor

By Titus Mutuma (Kenya)


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Immediately after my final year in campus, I made up my mind not to face the hard sun of shags. As I was earlier advised by the lots in the prime, seeking refuge at home especially in the upcountry was the most awful attempt a university graduate can commit. The ivory tower is a home of its own. As they say, it is a home away from home. Exactly, they make their own rules even impromptu or rather according to the circumstances, hence survival for the fittest. Comradeship is very much acclaimed internally and in the external bases of the campus. It is in their walk, talk, and also in the chew and the clad that acts as evidences. In addition, you will have to meet the extreme limits of researchers with all sorts of degrees and as usual, all are in grey hair or no hair on their head. It is a place that counts to have the ‘highest number of intellectuals per square meter’. And they all take a breather in the commonly think tank domicile well known by the Indian legendary name, MG. They usually go for the latest appliances and fashion from the nearest city. They have the power to determine and so the need for the association with the think tank. It is an environment that seeks no physical security for its survival. It is a 24 hour working environment. A friend of mine happened to be among the last persons to cross the Uhuru-university way round about almost daily and this has never been a problem even in those odd hours.

In the Village

Since the NCBD doesn’t accommodate the job less mwananchi anyway, most of the students finds their way to the down town. It is though meant for strictly the hopefuls.  While walking back to the campus, its connectivity starts from down town along Moi Avenue to Kenyatta Avenue, the newly re-invented Koinange Street to university way round about to state house road which will eventually drop you to the LSh or Ush Units. On behalf of my friend Mzungu (not the real name), I apologize to the tax driver who was harassed instead of getting his dues. The tax driver drove away for fear. Comradeship is so strong and this translates into sister/brotherhood whether in good or bad. As they say, the resultant value of good meeting bad is positive solution. The campuserian livelihood is composed of trial moments. And most astonishing thing, unlike the inevitable conflicts in every male’s scenes, ‘my four years end without coming across any two or more comrades fighting’. They say that wrestling is a village daily bread round the clock especially by the few who leave local brews dens late in the night. They fight over their better halves, the white-rocky soil in Mworoga and as usual the diverse political spheres of the Ethiofia and Denika factors. If three families of Rumwe village can have conflicts over leadership---!   In the village, lack of everything leaves men and women scuttling over each other even from the lightest scars of neighborhood. It remains to look like a field of sheep and unlike Moses; there is actually no leader here. Even when branches of trees break as a result of strong winds in nature, they are at the edge to bartering dirty words and threats. Understanding seems to have taken the wide road as in the scripture. Some folks also don’t like social relations within the vicinity. One of our own, young and energetic lost his life after the queen’s father and the starving adolescent hit my cousin, my only brother ‘slaughtering innocents’ with a hatchet to death. ‘For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and travelled ---- in search of a new life. For us they fought and died----’. We still love you bro. And just to let them learn that, ‘---- the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness’ still lights up the day.

The Cube

Back in the university, an attempt or a threat by an intruder to any one’s life is a crime. There is no finger pointing. It doesn’t let it go even when one of them is in the hands of law, obviously on intangible evidences. It rather creates an immeasurably battle of wits scenery. In the heart of campus, try it over Valentines Day. Just like in business, the highest binder carries the day. The competitions towards making the future soul mate are so healthy and this translates into real businesses. It is an opportunity to train how to sustain transparency in the house. The air is always filled with courtesy. You can’t move for more than ten meters without hearing someone say sorry, excuse me, I apologize, please and circumstantial classy faces by men, hard for ‘chics’ to by pass without becoming curious and envious on them. It is actually a place that you have to miss but the quench to take up to the next level of life just lets it go. The fact that the system is too long acts also as the other reason to aim for the finishing point from the campus and as well to abandon the yearly testing of whether you are still on track or just trading hours. They are called CATs. Nevertheless, there are reasons to miss campus. It arises if one took time to compare the spacious cube in the ivory tower to the two meter square room in Eastleigh. I struggled to fit in the bed. The fortune visitor will think that the bed was put in the cube before its construction. You may sometime act like a local tourist and think that you are in one of the Mount Elgon cave. I carry out all my household tasks from outside. My only pair of shoe that I keep under the bed can only be picked while on the foot step of the door. Soon I managed to buy a small television set (black and white) in this post modern world to at least keep updates with the politics of the day. After watching, it finds its way under the bed until when in need again. In other words, my room in the ghetto is scribbled on the door, ‘visitors are allowed in at their own risk’. When I happen to have a visitor from the village, I try to cook up my location by taking him to my friend in excuse that I am on a night shift in the Nakuru Mattresses Super shop. One of my uncle who is as tall as a giraffe, confessed never to visit me again after a back ache resulting from the night. He spent the night in a bow-like shape. He couldn’t wait for a second night. The concerns in his face tempted to plead with me to join him in the village. I can’t put down the village due to plenty milk and tea made ready in the morning. But, where is the bread? Here in the ghetto, I only take tea on Sundays.  You will have every reason to miss the campus and the dilemma of moving to the rural home. Plenty water, no paying of bills, electric heaters and cookers and cheap vegetables at club-36 in the premier campus are some of unbelievable withdrawals.  

Exaggerated Metropolis

And so every campuserian should try to become scientific by applying some telescopic devices. The attachment with campus life makes one leave his or her mind to think on behalf. As the people usually say, ‘unataka nikusaidie kufikiria?’ (Do you want me to think on your behalf?). There is nothing beyond the boom or numerous friends. When time comes to part ways with regular handshakes from relatives and gava loans, it becomes a very tempting moment of grief. Here in the city, every person is busy walking up or down the street. There is no one to talk to. It seems as if everyone is busy on phone, day in day out. As usual, no one is bothered with other’s businesses. The businesses have opened and the doors are waiting for customers to come in. Some are gangs and waiting for the fattest stake out of the ATM or in shop. In every money entry or exit point you will find two guards, fully armed ready to bump any criminals. This can act as an indicator that there are evil minded and pretending to be idle people, standing or sitting innocently in the street walkways. When they lack, each person made from the rib of a man (Genesis) is at ease to put on any kind of clothing. The aged end up closing their eyes. The cause of alarm is the attention-seeker. They go in the shop to get undersize dresses which makes everyone feel the wrath of the fourth coming generation. And for speculation, the backward process from creation is taking its course. The clothing industries will eventually close because the lady wears are now unwanted. May be they are selling better! As my old hand father is a regular visitor to the city, he has decided never to leave back his sun glasses behind to avoid direct eye contacts with the exaggerated metropolis updates. He says that he started visiting the city when Nairobi was uprooting trees which are now replaced by the tall buildings. And whenever you ask him the need for the sun glasses in the winter, he claims that his nude eyes are unable to withstand the future episodes filled with more bewilderment of his grand-grand children.

Codes of lifestyle

And now here in the ghetto, one needs to be prepared for supplementary secret codes of lifestyle. In the neighboring, Ofire, Okill, Ofight are permanent members of Ojuice. They are true die hands members of the Ojuice party. They are even ready to swing incase it changes to Omt-K. I live in fear certainly because I have a different opinion. Its consequences are burning of properties and losses of lives. In order to spare my lifestyle I keep myself restricted to being selective in what I say or do despite of freedom to expression. I can’t imagine anyone burning my newly acquired mattress after two months of spending on cement floor because I couldn’t afford it. I may be tempted to revenge. This is the journey we continue today. The rises and falls of our livelihood are the origins of differentiated ideas. Individuality is a self motivated perspective that probably emanates from all urban dwellers. Until when I tried to practice my courtesy to few strangers in the shared residence but lately did they wore tinted goggles when it was my turn. It trained me to be selective. All people are not out of the ordinary. I thought of leaning on my only blood temporal Nairobians as I seek for some light over my stay in the city while searching for any kind, kind job. There is no more welcoming or in other words, city is very far different from the village. An addition of one member in somebody’s unit here in the city, means adjusting the budget with an extra shilling. Isn’t lack a source of defining moments to keep distance from your own flesh and blood? Even the bigwigs complain. This is a signal of a bad lesson. I mind so much not to carry it forward.  Somebody would wish to have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth. It is in this world that one can find his way to Germany or in one of the glorified states for studies at only 14 years immediately after primary level of studies. You will never dare compare yourself with this kind of territory. Who therefore did choose the hard way that march you to the light at the end of the road? In this time of reckoning rather than speculating, I choose to cut off the odd cycle; lack.  You don’t wake-up early in the morning and go to your neighborhood to borrow some match sticks to light up your stove as is the norm in the village. You have to make the difference between a ghetto, an estate, a super estate and where you come from. For a graduate trainee who can’t find any parking space in the capital for at least half a day, s/he will work knee jerk and make use of sharp wits to fit in the accommodative ghetto. Or, who doesn’t know where s/he left his/her clothes? Home! ‘----what the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them----arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply’. Even though ‘assumption is never the solution’, it accommodates uncertain future that keeps us rolling on the virtue of hope.