Archive for the ‘Creative Non-Fiction’ Category
I was delighted to find my cousin waiting for me when I got off the bus. She’d arrived from Nairobi around 8:00 p.m., dropped off her luggage then returned to wait for me at the bus company’s office from 9:30 p.m. We threw my bag into the backseat and happily chatted on our way to her house.
Settling in for my first night’s rest in the town, I was grateful for the chilly breeze that intermittently blew through the window. That, coupled with the sand made Garissa feel like a nicer Mombasa—weather-wise anyway and if you aren’t into the whole “Ocean” thing. Before completely nodding off, I called family and friends to inform them of my safe arrival as well as to request my sister to urgently courier my National ID.
Nairobi, Early-ish November, 2010
I was sitting across from my friend, Jemedari, in a restaurant cum pub waiting for the monthly poetry session, Bar Stool, to begin when an insanely curly-haired white girl walked in. Later, more friends would turn up for the gig—most notably Kevin “ManNjoro”— and the three of us ended up reciting poetry.
I remember there was a hilarious mchongwano (teasing) session right after and I can recall looking over to the girl’s corner thinking, “Poor thing, she’s not getting ANYTHING.” When the show was over and we all stood up to leave, I walked passed her table and I’ll never forget what I heard her say to me.
“Ningependa kuzungumza na wewe.” (I’d like to speak to you)
*This is an account of a concert I attended in 2009 by the wonderful legendary drummer and singer and always young at heart; Bi Kidude*
I smiled as I rotated my hips and waist,gyrating slowly,my pace even with her staccato Unyago beats.Her voice pierced my eardrums and fired up the sky,the air crackled…almost…as the maybe-centerian Zanzibar gem sang and played her drum to her heart’s delight.The crowd almost just sat there;eyes sparkling,maybe a foot taping but most wore a bemused look,her music sparked their interest but didn’t move them to their feet.It was artsy,maybe even intellectually savvy,to sit there and soak in the wonders of her brand of Taarab but they didn’t get up and go with the flow…
But I danced there in the shadowy sidelines as I watched her thump her drum and give it a sound wallop.Tied to her waist,she drew her joy from the enormous oblong piece of wood and taunt sheep skin. Its intricate twines,knots and vines held her lovingly to her craft…her art….her talent…her life.I loved it when she shut her eyes and let her hands speak…every firm thump,drawn out or quick fast beat she sang out the drum,she savored.
Her eyes shut…feeling the music…seeing it explode,then start again,germinating and growing in her expert hands,the taunt and vast flatness of the skin was an old and familiar terrain beneath her palms.Flanked by her faithful two,she,older and obviously more sinewy and wispy haired,was majestic though her frame diminutive and as the drum reverberated one last time and the last chorus sang,a silence descended…In that quiet moment,that total absence of sound,that nanosecond before the applause…that’s when I knew it…
I just had a moment with magic.
© wanjeri gakuru