Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Br. Gabriel

          I wish to call this particular article “a walk under the scorching sun with a priest.” When you take a walk with a priest you ought to brace your tainted heart for scathing admonitions and your drooping spirit for some levitating or lulling advice. In this case, the priest here is Bro Gabriel or Gabu if you like. That was back in 2009. These are vivid memories of my occasional evening walks in the afternoon with him. The sun would be very harsh on us, yet I and him enjoyed the company. Rarely did we think about the sun. As it is, coming to Hola was an experience of its own kind for Gabriel. He frequently insisted we walk because I was available. I did not understand then the purpose of those walks to and from the shopping centre. In fact, he often informed me early enough and the walk would only be at 4pm. On the first day, I was looking forward to it for two reasons. First, I was expecting a free beer. Second, I was looking forward to it because, before then, no ordained brother had ever asked me to take a walk with him, probably because ordained priest usually have means of transport. So it was probably a privilege to me and unfortunately a disgrace to him. It does not matter because both reasons were wrong especially the one about a beer.

I call it a walk with a priest under the scorching sun because Gabu was always aware of his status as a priest, was not supposed to be languishing under the heat of the sun. He always felt the sun was unfairly hot! Often, we discussed a lot during those walks mostly rotated around priesthood and the “hardness of life”. These discussions would at times scare the young me then. Gabu has a way of putting across his points. He is a comically serious man who would tell me, “Haki wewe si unateseka sana! kama mimi ni padre na nateseka hivyo hapa Hola, na jua hii, na wewe?” seemingly, priests are not supposed to experience the raw scathing of the sun. I had not thought about suffering then until he pointed it out to me, perhaps I was just a happy pig munching its rotten rubbish and never caring to change a thing in life, (and I have not changed a thing, I am still preparing). All the same, he woke me up!!

Friday, 14 July 2017

Br. Mwaura

        Today Br. Mwaura will be buried. A lot of stories are going to be said about him, and probably you and I will not hear even a half of them. I am going to tell his story as well, from my perspective. It is easy to tell stories of dead men; owing to the obvious fact that they are never there to object. Only in comics do they rise to defend their character when it is not well represented. For instance there is that fellow who had pretended to have been dead only to hear his neighbor telling his wife that “he has died with my cassava, arrowroots, sweet potatoes, and other debts, he should have paid his debts before going.” The fellow rose to tell his wife the truth! Br Mwaura is GONE, gone too soon although he had hit the fifty years necessary for seeing Abraham (Jn 8:57).


The period between when I met Br. Mwaura, forgot him, then met him again and renewed our acquaintance, was a decade that flew like a snowball falls off the sky. When I met him last, he reminded me that indeed there are people who live their life saying yes to almost everything, fully conscious that an emphatic No hurts and an inappropriate yes can always be explained later. He was one of them. Everything to him was “ah, ndio”. One day, and as his responsibility to dispense certain services like giving me 40 shillings for shaving, he always did it with a vibrant, “ah, ndio, unahitaji kunyoa ukae smart, ndio.” He would give and then later tell me, “lakini sasa ukinyoa hivyo watanzania, watakuona kama umetoka kwa mazishi!” I stopped shaving like “that” jordan. I stopped shaving all together - but today I have to shave because indeed it is a burial day for him. May his soul rest in peace. 

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Br. O. Evans

          This 17th day of May, 2017, as we prepare our breakfast with Br Evans, our laughter shrieks through to the sitting room where Br Kamrata is seated. It is obvious that Kamrata is concerned because, according to him, Evans is a little reserved. So, what could he be laughing about? That is exactly the puzzle I have been seeking to solve with Evans. This life has taught most of us that our view of life is highly shaped by our passions. Take for instance, when a pilot is looking at a cow (ng’ombe), it is true he sees a cow with four legs, a wagging tail and so forth. But, if he is truly passionate about his flying job, he might find himself looking at the cow in relation to his passion; probably wondering why cows don’t fly like eagles or like his airplanes. Hence, Evans is passionate about various things but mostly animals.
          One time, as I flipped through the Tuesday’s newspaper (full of animals and farming stuff), Evans peeped and asked if we could talk a little. Of course we could talk because I was actually reading the newspaper out of sheer boredom. I, like many government employees shamelessly admit, the best way to look busy in the office is by carrying with them a newspaper around as if it is the book of eternal life. The talk with Evans hence surpassed that of the newspaper significantly. The talk was about his journey as a Capuchin Friar. It was very interesting, or is it how he narrated it that made it interesting? Anyway, I have forgotten most of the things he said, but there is one account I would be an imbecile if I forgot.

Apparently, some year back, his father said ‘to hell with the taxman’ and boycotted the taxman's rule of staying alive. So, the formattor called Evans and informed him that he would need to travel to kisii. Unfortunately, the formattor did not entirely disclose the purpose of his travel and that he was actually going to bid his father goodbye. Thus, as usual, we say that when you hear Kisii, your head has no option but to go “bananas”. That is exactly what happened (it went “bananas” for the sake of natural inclination to self-preservation). According to his very interesting narration, he put aside the fear of the office of the formattor. He demanded to know why he was being sent away without a just cause. Even more he left me in stitches when he told me that all the while the formattor spoke (mentioned) about “some” problem back at home his mind raced and was flooded with strange idea of his/their priceless cows back at home. His spirit wreathed in anger and disappointment, and he thought furiously, “acha kunidanganya bwana, unataka tu kunifukuza, unaniambia niende nyumbani juu kuna shida, ni shida gani hiyo iko nyumbani, kwani ng’ombe wetu aliibiwa?” For the love of the animals, what other more problem can there be other than the safety of animals? So he wondered. 
Hardly have I met a man half-passionate about animals as Evans.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Br. Peter

   I happen to know only the good side of many brothers, not that I don’t see the bad ones, rather, that they don’t show me that side and it is certainly good for my health. Br. Peter is one of these many brothers whose only side I know is the good one. I have intermittently lived with him in various communities and it was always like living in the life of the famous Mr. Bin! He lives a silent yet hilarious lifestyle. The best memories of Br. Peter I have are of a tough-faced hilarious brother. I prefer calling him “P” because he mingles well with young folks and they call him father “P”.
Some brothers remember him as the haired one with afro and beard. But to me, he is a clean shaved brother living this moment. I want to tell why I refer to him as a man living this moment. I met him a decade ago. That time, we had a gathering, celebrating something (something I cannot really remember because it was a “high school celebration” and being fresh from school then, the memories of high school were still fresh in me – bad memories. school, to small minds is a kind of foretaste of how we will suffer in hell). Anyway, it was a school by the ocean run by the Daughters of the Sacred Heart sisters. In fact the school is known as Baharini because it is – as I said – by the ocean.

As usual, the celebration was very boring with multiple speeches. Br. Peter came late while the speeches were still going on. Upon sitting next to me, before anything else, he spoke in a very audible voice. A voice that attracted  the attention of those around because it was loud, clear, true and in the middle of someone’s speech. He asked, “sasa tutakula saa ngapi?” I could not stop laughing all through the celebration. He had not even spent three minutes since his arrival. He must have seen the hunger and the boredom so glaringly written on my face. True to that moment, what we needed was food not talks, and he saved us!!!!! 

Friday, 16 December 2016

Br Seme

“A beautiful boy” is the literal meaning of the name Seme in his mother’s language! Apparently, there was once a fellow older than Jesus “the human”. He said that one is a perfect fool if he appreciates nothing of beauty and the beautiful ones – that fellow was Plato in his dialogue Happias Major. (I don’t want to be a fool, so I acknowledge Seme). For a person like me whose spirit droop pretty often, we depend on Seme because he is always laughing. Br. Khisa would say “anatoa meno Nje saa yote.” Even when his own spirit is low. I have personally witnessed his mixed up moods with admiration. It is a breathtakingly concocted set feelings that he displays. Imagine this, I and he had a minor accident, he laughed then kept his mouth ajar for like a minute in disbelief of what had happen then fear came upon his skin like a coat. On another occasion, We gathered to come up with a student representative, we unanimously pointed one and Seme alone in the middle of his laughter shouted in protest saying that he did not wish to have a leader like that. We all turned to him and there was a concoction of feelings on his face again – laughter, fear and disappointment, all at the same time. But above all his laughter never goes away! Personally I have come to depend on him on a day like today when I am down. It heals.  

This my personal benefit. He looks at me and he realizes that I am off the beat of life, then he tells me “ama wewe unasemaje?” I wonder what he is driving at, then he continues “Unajua nimefanya research nimejua kitu? Ukitaka mosquitos wasikuje chumbani kwako unafanya nini? Unaacha viatu vinanuka kwa dirisha, hawatakaribia.” (well, that research is very unscientific).  That was enough to jack-up my spirit. Then he laughes his ribs off to the floor. Even if I had missed the jest, I would have laughed at him or still his laughter would have carried me along. Any of them could work. But as for me, all of them worked.  
Indeed, beauty heals the mind and the heart and so is Seme. 

Friday, 18 November 2016

Bro Charles Daniel

Unfortunately I have no memory of how I met Charles. I think he came to exist in my world at the same time as capuchins – the long I have him known is equally the long I have known the capuchins. I will simply refer to him as Obama the master. I refer to him as the master because according to me, he is the master of his life. Few of us determine where life leads us, he does. One person who can predict his pieces with precision. He knows where every piece will fall in future. While most of us wait for life to happen to us, Obama is busy making his life happen to him. That is the person I have known for almost a decade yet I have not seen him make a mistake about anything that is meaningful to him. I would say that if this life was a chess game, then Obama has more pawn and he knows very well that pawns grow to any other piece including to queen. He protects his pawns well more often for the good of those people he cares about.
When we were very new in this capuchin way of life, he acted as our elder brother for a month – it was a very long month. It was necessary that we listen to his advice. So one evening I asked him if according to him I could make a capuchin, he laughed at me saying “Rich maisha yetu ni difficult (Swahili ngumu kwa mjaluo) lakini wewe utafaulu, kwanza unakula chakula kidogo kama paka, huna shida utasurvive hapa.”

Since then I have been surviving probably because of his prophesy!!!

Monday, 7 November 2016

Br. Geoffrey (Jeff)

To all the ladies out there busy kissing all sorts of frogs in search of their “prince charming”, stop wasting anymore time, the fellow you are looking for I think missed his turn in life and ended up right here with us! Unfortunately, the chances of kissing him are pretty minimal. See, now he is already a brother with three vows including chastity – which he takes very seriously. Now, knowing him in person, as I do, you will be awestruck at the realisation of just how true it is that charming has got nothing to do with being humorous, just like a smile has nothing to do with being good. I call him charming because I believe my friends and relatives, who upon visiting me, the only person they tend to tell me to pass regards to when we meet again is him. I often ask why, “because he is interesting!!!” they say.
Mind you, he is not only likable to the visitors and poor of my class but also the strong and the “don't touch” folks. A couple of times I have seen the superior looking for him to discuss “certain issues” and I always wondered what they discussed. Probably because a superior’s call would scare the hell out of my bowels. Apparently, when the superior is looking for you, trust me, you should be on your heels and hastily putting your words in order lest they fly out of you untamed. That is not Jeff as we call him. He is not troubled and he can handle pretty much anyone with fitting words and calm. Always taking things easy, the other day as he offered me a drink he said, “wacha nikakuletee ukunywe juu nimesikia wewe umekuwa my ‘godfather.’” we laughed it off though we both knew those words had been used elsewhere to demean him, yet he took no offense …… I think he is a good deal for a “godson”, he will make fun of it after all and entertain the people with it!!