Growing up, I never used to eat matumbo. At all. Even when I was present during a slaughtering ceremony and the portion called ‘meat of the slaughterers’ was prepared, I skipped matumbo like Uhuru skipped devolution conference. I’d just quickly swallow half-chewed pieces of meat then chew exhaustively baadae. Reason? I had heard somewhere that matumbo instills fear in men, and that is one class I did not intend to attend. Fear, Britons, is what you call cowardice. Matumbo is, well, matumbo.
Then I went to college and budget cuts came knocking and somehow matumbo at Chela’s and Nancy’s eateries started tasting completely like meat, if not better. It is around that time I discovered Sossi is also a more nutritious and tastier kind of meat.
Also, Samuel Kariuki came along. That chimp used to convince me to do a lot of silly things. Like to live in the school hostels, to drink a little before salsa night (translated to passing out and missing the entire event) to buy a carton of sossi etc etc. Worst of all, to cook matumbo.
Sa si we are there on a Saturday recounting losses and feeling hungry and not feeling like we can swallow anything without throwing up. Kariuki, aka, O-sekeretary njeneral, aka projects co-ordinator, informs me that the recovery we need requires a good meal, and when he does not mention sossi soya, I immediately agree. Except he proposes matumbo.
But still, better than sossi. Uneventfully, and with very few words spoken, we go to the butchery right next to the hostel, and procure a whole kilogram of matumbo, our grumbling pockets regardless.
Plus a few other ingredients, tomatoes like this like that, and return to the task.
Ngai mwathani! That stuff smells bad! Worse than rotten rats mixed with week-old garbage and boiled for half a day. And because we have one room functioning as kitchen, bedroom, balcony and sitting room, we are in trouble. The smell is sticking on our bedding and clothes like those ‘party time chewing gum’ stickers.
So we choose the next best course of action- to open all doors and windows, rather, the door and the window. Now, that is what is called dirty linen in public! The smell which hits that hostel hallway! People can be heard closing their doors in haste and locking with keys plus antigen. (Enemies of development insist to date that smell made many ladies who were in that men’s hostel for the weekend leave never to return. They also say the janitor issued a memo, but si you know haters?)
And, because hangover is hangover, Kariuki still convinced me to eat that matumbo. I was bedridden for a whole two weeks, but Kariuki insists he has never seen me healthier, says I never missed a single lecture in that period.
“Sisi ndio hatukua tunajua kupika matumbo,” he said, “lakini sasa nimejua njaro.”
Suffice to say we never cooked matumbo again during our stay in Kesses, and to date I personally haven’t. Anyone with a matumbo cookbook?
PS: It was in that same room that Kariuki convinced me to drink Bru Moon. I could tell you what ensued, but the committee of three people present during the act recommended that ‘Hiyo story iishie hapo.” So, #iBounce