If you prowl the internets today, there are names you are not likely to miss. Locally, we have the likes of Uhuruto and Raila, Gor Mahia and Julius Yego. Then you go out a little, you hear Trump, Obama, Messi…
Sometimes in the last century, we had a completely different set of newsmakers. And no, you did not see them on the internet; you read them in newspapers and magazines, heard about them on VoK or saw them on black and white TVs which had a nationwide distribution ration of 1: ALL. But they were big names all the same. Names like Yasser Arafat, Jay Jay Okocha, Pele, Maradona and me, Mugambi wa Man Beater. Yes, me, here…look at me, yes me.
I was international news in the last century, forget about these days even kids of The Rose’s neighbour have made a habit of asking me ‘unaitwaje?’
Well, let me explain how it came to be.
Long time ago, when every Kenyan village was allowed just two representatives in Nairobi, my cousin Nyuki was the Chief Events Organiser[CEO] in the Seven Ridges of The Mountain slopes. He took charge of organizing íthinga [mudding of houses] after-parties in the entire region. You could get a full package (Music+lead dancers+socialites+cane brew) or you could pick some and cater for others yourself. How did he land such a prestigious post, you ask.
Well, when he did not land the chance to go to Nairobi, Nyuki went to Mombasa. Word around went that he got employed by the then Coast Provincial Commissioner. Three years later, he returned to the village with a two-speaker, four cassette, 12 dry cell-battery radio changer. A few days later, he went to town and bought a 6-hole Lead-acid battery. From then, he gained instant fame, and unopposed rise to the CEO position.
As close family to Nyuki, I gained my own slice of popularity, despite my young age. But that is not how I made news, rather, not exactly how.
It happened one December that Nyuki decided to host a party for the seven ridges. A BIG PARTY. It so happened that during that year he had made so good business that he had cash to blow. Also, there was a rumour that Kivoi was in the process of acquiring an even bigger sound system, so Nyuki took the opportunity to cement his fan base.
He hired an empty shop in the nearby Kigumo market. This was to act as a dancing hall, with the little back room as an alcohol armoury. The day of the disco would be Jamhuri day, 12th December. 7pm until Chee. Charges: 10 ksh per dancing head…big discount!
Posters were made and distributed. Dry cells were collected all over the village and set in the sun to charge, even those that were dripping. Two troughs were made to hold a whopping 156 dry cells each. The lead-acid battery was taken to Njúe Kavata’s for charging three days prior. Everything was set for success.
On the material day, Nyuki contracted us- me, Bakari and Cos mkenya- to set up sound for him. The payment would be free entrance to the disco, although there was no way Mkenya and I could be out at 7pm. Bakari had gained internal self-rule, so he could stretch it to 10 or 11, or use the chance to agitate for full independence. There was one strict condition though: No playing music before time.
12th December was a bright day. There had been rain within the week, but the material day was bright and pleasantly warm, and, as a bonus, there was no dust.
After setting up sound, Nyuki did the testing and, convinced that he had finally made a name for himself, opened a Tusker in celebration. He then left to make other logistics, leaving us to keep guard. And that is when we made the biggest mistake.
Bakari left to make his own arrangements, and I convinced Mkenya that since we had no way of being at the party, we should get our slice of the fun right away. So we got the music up, sneaked into the armory and got a glass of Múratina each, then started bobbing away.
None of us was familiar with alcohol, so soon Mkenya had to take a leak. He had not stayed out long enough to finish the business, when he stepped back into the hall in a mad dash. He informed me Nyuki was on his way there, and I immediately knew we were in hot soup.
Quickly I switched off the music and we dashed out of the door just before Nyuki arrived. We knew better than to wait for the CEO’s wrath. As he saw us leaving, he informed us that our payment was done; he would be dealing with us after the disco.
By evening, I could see lots of youths streaming in to the market for the disco. Gents in oversize Fubu and Michael Jordan/Magic Johnson shirts and ladies in platform heels. The sight was so promising.
But none of all that could make me break the Man Beater’s rule.
I checked in home at 7:14 pm, just as Edward Kadido was beginning to read ‘Matangazo maalum halkadhalika ya vifo.’ I was a bit late, but it was let go, and I knew one day I’d also gain independence. I could hear Nyuki’s disco from far off, but not much later I tuned it out- it was the only way to beat the disappointment.
I awoke to the noise of Nyuki in the compound, cursing as I had never heard him before. It was a rare occasion on which he appeared unafraid of both The Taliban and The Man Beater. He swore that I was dead meat; come what may. I knew that Nyuki was not a joker, rumor had it that he fled coast after chopping off a man’s ear Peter-the-disciple style.
That was the first day I left home without permission. It was also the first time I returned to my maternal grandparent’s home voluntarily. I informed them that my life was in danger, I had come to seek asylum. They were not to tell anyone I was there, not even TheRose or The Man Beater.
It is while there that I got the whole story- hello KTN!
Apparently, Nyuki’s disco had flopped badly, as the music went off at around 10pm and patrons became rowdy. Some were demanding reimbursement, while Nyuki and allies stood firm and asserted that their ‘ten bob was already finished.’ A big fight had broken out, and the government was still tracking the organisers.
And that is when it dawned on me: In the huff to leave after Nyuki returned, I had just reduced the volume and left the music playing. That had drained the batteries for like six hours before the party started. Nyuki had finally understood what I had done, and had informed the rowdy patrons as much, and, at the moment, everybody was talking about me and how I had sabotaged a national event. Some were swearing to get me to pay. No one mentioned Mkenya; what an unfair world this is!
Then, I understood and accepted why I was now a fugitive, running away from my blood cousin, my own brother in Embu customs.
Bonus clip: Love train disco dance https://web.facebook.com/OfficialAnttix/videos/1344960652199711/
Thankfully, and I am sorry to say thankfully, Nyuki was arrested soon after as the chief organiser of the rowdy party. The Taliban, always a diplomat, The Lord rest His great soul, Negotiated his release in return for my pardon.
Needless, to say, Nyuki’s events business took a hit that reverberates to date, in another century. I feel somewhat responsible, but I also think that technology and urbanisation would have driven him out of the market either way. Si ndio?