You and I over a cup of coffee! Imagine that…
‘What will we talk about?’, you are wondering
‘But I do not even know you’, I know! Neither do I !
‘Since when did you and I start having coffee dates?’ We will start then, there is always the first time!
‘Oh, It has been a while’, yea. Sure, I still remember the stuffy congested dungeon you took me to! At some point I almost fainted…remember?
We do not have to talk, no, not when we have nothing to talk about. We can sip our coffee silently and let it slowly flow into and warm our bellies while as we mentally count the number of customers frequenting the coffee shop! Or wherever it is we will be taking our coffee.
You can as well stare at your cup of coffee as you wonder what whoever discovered coffee was thinking when they did and how they did it( Perhaps you should know it originated from Africa, just as almost everything else ,where things reversed is the big question!) or better still, stare at the stranger or friend in front of you, your choice, whilst as I, will not be staring at you. I will be absent minded as I sip my coffee, probably sailing the pacific in the titanic 11 as it makes its maiden voyage, as long as the silence looms, most times I usually am.
Eventually, when the awkwardness is over we will talk about a lot of things and little nothings. No rules. No terms or conditions.
“How has climate change affected your immediate environment so far?” I will try to start a conversation.
‘’pretty bad …(silence)… but we are trying to adapt.
“You don’t say!” I will prob.
“Yes, if you watch news you surely are aware of the severe drought killing us and our animals. Our rivers are dry, it is a desperate situation. I really sympathize with the people down there, the situation there is so dire and as if that is not enough as drought exits floods flow in and we are never ready. Never! The water drains away to I don’t know where.”
I will be nodding ,slowly, listening keenly.
“We are sensitizing our people to avoid cutting down trees and plant more instead though with the tough climatic conditions one wonders how many will survive,but we must do what we have to do regardless!
Utilization of renewable energy like solar,wind,water is quite essential in tackling that monster climate change since emmision of green house gases to the atmosphere will be reduced…also forests will be conserved in the process.’’ you will go on.
“Mmh I see, that is wonderful” I will reply making a mental note to Google’ renewable energy’ later.
I will then proceed to inform you that we from the lower eastern lastly had a significant harvest in nineteen ngoote kisaa!
“How come you look like you are from the western, rift valley or Nyanza?” you will ask me
I will give you a blank stare thinking ‘here we go again!’
I mean you are tall, dark and slim. Aren’t most Kambas short and a little lighter in complexion and speak in soprano ‘ish’ yours is alto!?”
I will stare at you the more with a ‘are you kidding me?’ look battling with my alter ego whether or not to inform you of my great grandmother’s Nubian origin but I imagine I will then let it pass and ask you,
“ So you are from Northern Kenya?”
you will look at me and without betraying any emotion reply, “ I do not have to come from there to feel the pain of the people there, or do I?” -silence-
You will smile sheepishly feeling like a winner,after all you will have lectured me about climate change and all. In that excitement you will sip your hot coffee fast then end up burning your tongue but since the cool and cultured you cannot spit, in your ‘come what may’ spirit you will swallow it in one gulp, feel it burn your intestines which will in turn rumble in pain making you release a hollow painful laughter and ask me,
“This people, must they make the coffee so damn hot?” tears faintly forming in your eyes.
I will look at you trying to conceal my laughter which will inevitably escape in a screech, sorry but a little happy that you will have gotten what you deserve for being a bit nosy.
As they say ‘the winner takes it all!’ you will have gotten your all!
“I am Kenyan, I have never been to the western or Nyanza, at least not in this life,yet, maybe in the previous. As for Rift valley I have been to the lord Egerton castle for a friend’s wedding and if Fly over Njambini is in the rift valley I have been there too” I will inform you.
On the mention of fly over you will raise your eyes questioningly. “For business” I will curtly reply.
“You are too young for business” you will point out.
“I am not as young as I look, Its the genes, In any case how young is too young? I imagine its relative” I will respond.
“By the way what do you think of ‘tribalism’ here in Kenya?” you will ask me over your last sip of your first cup of coffee, changing the subject.
“Horrible. One would have imagined it would be a non issue at this time and age over fifty years after independence. “I will comment, after thinking for about a few seconds. I always seem to think, even at the obvious answers.
“Look at the social sites, tribalism in black and white, even with the millenials.” You will tell me
“Millennials?” I will enquire.
“Yes ,millennials, the generation born in the early 80s,90s and probably early 2000s.” you will reply ,adjusting your sitting position to upright, more confidently, feeling smart!
You will then call the waiter to refill our mugs. “make it snappy” you will order him.
‘Snappy’ really? I will open my mouth to say something but on a second thought I will let it pass.
After two silent sips you will engage me in more conversation.
“The social media is full of millennials abusing each other just because the leaders they support politically belong to different tribes…silence…and the millennials will call each other all sorts of names just for let’s say a corrupt leader whose hobby is flying from one end of the country to the other in a chopper bought by our hard earned money smearing onlookers with unimaginable dust as they land and take off. Imagine the people abusing each other because of such a person are not even sure if they will have anything to eat for dinner.” You will furiously shake off your head.
The children of this tribal leaders will be seen occasionally hanging out together smoking shisha or doing some other social activity in those social places you and I cannot access, in their expensive Gucci outfits( I will for a minute get lost in my world wondering if Gucci is some sort of leather, cotton or silk!).
“Do you know their fathers meet occasionally and address each other as ‘ndugu yangu’ as they feast on nyamachoma and other delicacies?” You will ask me rhetorically.
“Do you see them on this television debates they hold? They take each other on, ripping each other off with many heavy English words many a times full of tribalism, tactfully charging us the viewers like we are batteries, till they are sure we are fully charged, to take on one another .The show always ends at the climax. If you have been keen you will see how they vigorously and firmly shake hands, with loud and victorious laughter, sure of having met their objective.” You will proceed, not caring whether I am listening or not.
“Yes, I always see all that.” I will reply.
“How do you fight a neighbor you borrow salt from over a certain human being just because he/she is of your tribe and the nearness you have been to them is the TV screen?” you will ask me.
“It is unbelievable. Maybe we as a people have been bewitched. “I will answer in lack of anything else to say.
You will look at me disapprovingly then ask me, “ …and the witch died or what!?”
I will watch as the waiter pours coffee to two more customers as I block the image of a dead witch from my mind and ignore your stare.
“Don’t you think if it was not for tribalism we will be a first world country, probably the first in Africa?” You will ask me.
“Tell me about it.” I will indulge as I take a double sip of my coffee.
“It is simple. We would have chosen our leaders as per their capability to lead and not the ‘they are ours’ narrative and thus the development agenda would have been key and it does not take rocket science to imagine we would be far…thinking…very far.”
Seconds will pass then I will tell you,” you know it is never too late. The people have the power to take our country where they want. The earlier they realize that the better. On another note don’t you think it would be a good idea if those leaders who want us citizens to fight for them would organize a match at Kasarani stadium for instance and invite us as spectators as they wrestle one another, at least for a change. We will watch and cheer as they tear each other apart wrestle-mania style, or what do you think?” I will tease. We will both imagine the scenario and giggle simultaneously.
You will then close your eyes and imitate “weighing 170 pounds ,welcome to the ring, MAN MONDE”…you will suddenly go silent…
(you in silence imagining cheers from the crowds as man monde dressed in tiny boxers with two strips crisscrossing his chest enters the stage bouncing to the rhythm of some funny tune. As he approaches the center of the ring he performs two press ups but falls flat on his stomach on his third try but then pretends it was part of the stunt and painfully but majestically staggers to the center of the ring, restlessly psyching himself up as he gazes at the entrance for his opponent. All this while part of the crowd cheers him up as the rest boo him. Suddenly in almost the same manner but different rhythm and gimmicks man Thiru appears as his supporters cheer him on. ‘weighing 172 pounds ,welcome to the ring, his challenger, MAN THIRU… Then the bell rings, time to rumble…)
All this time while you are deep in your imagination I will be wondering what is on earth is wrong with you! I will shake you and ask you what is up, why you are smiling and you will tell me “ Oh, nothing” as you smile more weirdly.
You will then ask me if I need another round of coffee and without waiting for my answer will call and order the waiter for a final round.
You will then suddenly tell me, ”Mark you, do you know that a lot of Kenyans do not take coffee?”
“Sadly.” I will reply and then continue, ”and the corruption menace, what is your take?
“Terrible .What I think think of it might take another two hours so catch up later?” You will respond.