In one of my many statuses on WhatsApp (you know those people who post statuses as if they have Shares onWhatsApp?) I’m not one of them. Am of the Maumau era. In one of my many statuses though, I shared a Greek proverb. Ngim comes from Mut. I went ahead to show you the Mut (Unga) I came from and wished my mum a Happy Birthday. ?? I feel proud of myself already. Am not sure why though.
Whether my mum saw those thousand statuses or not is none of my/your business. At least the world saw it. And while still at it, who knows? My potential future bae vis a vii (sijui ata kama inaandikagwa hivyo) wife, saw I am good at keeping track of important dates. Right? Yes right. Thank you.
Now that’s not the story today. Ngim comes from what? Mut. This is a saying in Greek lingua that has no maana ya juu and maana fiche. It only has maana. This proverbs translates to Ugali comes from Unga. Good. Let’s get to the unga part because am the Ngim here.
Flashback. 1958. Kwa Wanjiku Centre. My age is 10 or so. My Mother WaWanjiru. (by this time, she had not earned the title waCynthia) not that Cynthia had not been born but no one in our village would associate themselves with the Muthungu names with all the pain they had caused us. So we just called her Wanjiru wa Kiwiri. And we loved it that way.
My brother Kimani wa Kiwiri and I had just come from the forest. Wawanjiru had sent us with food and information to take to Wanjiku caves. Here my dad and other men were camping strategizing on which muthungu to take out next. Strapped well in a bundle of firewood were food, a gun and a letter. These, we were given instructions to ensure we personally got them to my father by ourselves and not any other fighter.
My father went by the name general Kiwiri by then. He led the troop of guerillas. He was the most feared of all the warriors in this area. Word around was that he could communicate with wild animals. In such instances, the animals would attack the muthungu and the collaborators and leave out the Maumau men. People also said that he actually could communicate with the wind.
On a certain day, a strong wind had come up over the village from the direction of the forest and had swept out the roof to a white man’s house. Word is, he had sent it. People say he was in that wind because thereafter, guns and ammunition went missing in the white man’s house. The previous year when our village was struck by drought, he single-handedly attacked a neighbouring white man’s camp and drove off with a lorry full of foodstuff and brought it to our village.
Let me pause here. The Ngim and the Mut thing. Haven’t I in so many instances brought you guys, sweets? Eh? Who hasn’t seen me talk to the wind? Am not sure it listens, but at least I try. And the Maumau thing, have you seen my hair? Leadership nayo you think being a Whatsapp group admin ni mchezo? It takes courage, confidence, determination and experience my friends.
Okay… Where was I? We got to the forest, and back. Safely. Then we were sent a second round. The men in the forest were too many to be fed in one round without carrying a bundle that wouldn’t raise suspicion. We were used to taking up to 7 rounds a day. At some point, we thought their work was just eat and sleep.
It was at this second round that all hell broke loose. Some informer had told the muthungu of our many trips to the forest and back. He had trailed behind us on the first round and back watching us from a distance. On the second trip, he had waylaid us at the front. Safe distance from both the caves and the village.
“Good Morning boys” a voice stopped us from behind. We could here it sounded as if the owner of the voice had his nostrils half closed half open.
As had been instructed, we were to pretend we don’t understand the white man’s language and if he had a translator, we were to tell them we are collecting firewood for my mother who works in the white man’s farm. Lakini Kimani ni nani.
“We don’t understand that language, ” he said confidently.
“And what are you doing here?”
“Here in the forest? ” Kimani asked.
“Yes here. “
“We don’t understand that question sir” he replied. The white man made faces that showed we had started annoying him. As the big brother I am and ought to be, I took charge of the situation.
“Sir, you have a problem? Aren’t you in the same forest as we? Have we asked you what you are doing? Have we any business with you? Are we you? Are you we? Look me well in the eye and shoot me if you like!! I will die for my country but not kneel down for man. I cant huh mwak and huh Mundu!! Never! ” (My people, this is the ngim and mut thing am talking about)
My people, composed like never before but face redder than pepper, the Whiteman pulled his pistol from its place, pointed right on my forehead. By now, you already know my trousers were wet. I think its the rain or something. Body shaking like a tambourine (Sauti sol) Then he pulled the trigger.
“click click! ”
“Click click!! ”
Like seriously?! What did he expect? Am the son of the man who speaks to the wind and it listens. Dah! I started bragging about my father’s deeds and might. Dancing around a shaken mzungu. Telling him that just by pointing that gun towards me, he had written his death wish, signed it off and sent it to the Maumau fighters the way we had been sent.
“So you guys have been sent to them? “
“Yes. Do you want to take your death application letter yourself or send us? “
And then it hit him. His gun’s magazine was empty. Laughing hysterically, the man took out two bullets from his blazer, loaded his gun, pointed it at my forehead again. My leg shaking game continued. Sweating profusely.
“Say your last prayers boy!?”
Watu wangu kama hauna nguvu ya vitu zingine usijaribu kuota ndoto zingine. Such dreams are for the strong. Not us. Nimeamshwa na hio boom!?! I think ni neighbour amebang mlango. Acha nikojoe nikalale. Goodnight people.