OKAY, folks, I just want us to be honest, and when I say honest, I mean reaaaly honest, do you catch my drift?
It has always surprised me that it is only in Bongo where it seems that everyone, including your house girl or house boy, are well informed in so many things, despite the fact that most of the time the topics they discuss, and the ideas and wisdom that is dished out free of charge, is always twisted.
If you live in this city, then you will definitely agree with me that I am telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, because chances are, you are one of the wise men and women yourself, and let a train full of passengers heading to Tabora run over me if I am telling a lie! (Was that a train I just heard hooting outside?).
Take the example of our beloved ramshackle we fondly call a ‘daladala’. If the good Lord has not smiled on your poor self and blessed you with your own set of wheels, then it is obvious that you always cram your frame, either big or small, into one of these moving contraptions at one time or another during the day.
And you will agree with me that because the Bongo folks are known everywhere (I think it is worldwide, don’t you agree?) for their willingness to talk, then it becomes unusual if you enter one daladala and there is total silence from the beginning of your journey to the end, that is talking of the impossibilities!
Probably as you seat your poor self comfortably, the guy seated next to you will offer you a hearty ‘Za saa hizi!?’, and because you don’t want to appear rude, you respond back, and inform the person that you are okay, even if your boss, who always appears as if he is on a mission to make your life miserable, has just been chewing your head off in the office.
Before the dirty and smelly conductor, the guy we call ‘Konda’ or ‘Mikoba’ can tell the driver to hit the road, the same guy seated next to you, after realising that you are a potential candidate for a conversation, will start on something that will always require your response, (whether you like it or not, I might add!)
“My friend, this heat is going to kill us very soon!” he says. And again, because you don’t want to appear rude (even if you are always rude most of the time) you think of the right words to respond.
But before you could say anything, the fellow seated on the other side of the noisy passenger picks up on the conversation, and in a loud voice says “Acha bwana, Dar haina joto! Nimetoka Misri mtu wangu, kule mayai unachemsha kwenye ndoo nje!” he says, and soon, every wise passenger in the vehicle, which in this case happens to be all the passengers, (apart from you of course) start describing their personal experiences involving hot and humid weather.
A fat woman seated just behind you, and who has a close resemblance to your local mama Ntilie, engages an old man next to her with her ordeal in South Sudan “I am telling you, the only time when it is not hot in South Sudan is never! I had to walk in the streets of Juba wearing just ‘kanga moko’, can you imagine that!” she says.
But if you actually take your sweet time and try to look into that particular woman’s life, you will be shocked to discover that the farthest she has ever gone in her entire life might be just Mtwara, or Mbeya for that matter.
Soon, a fellow who has all the appearances of a seasoned pickpocket interrupts her and informs the whole daladala that nothing beats his experience in the Sahara Desert, the land of camels and mirages.
“There was a time I was stranded in the Sahara where I went to look for gold and diamonds, and believe me, I was drinking camel urine for breakfast and supper, but I survived….do you know it tastes like Mirinda nyeusi!?” he says, to the amusement of everyone.
But before another passenger, a woman who has bleached herself pink could feed your ears with her own experience when she was in Dubei (Dubai), you have to alight, but it has left you with a certain idea that the Bongo species are a widely travelled lot, if you are new in town, that is.
But because, as you have always known, that Baba Boyi is a very quiet and decent fellow, I always listen to all these cracks with a sense of amusement, because after all, if these guys don’t offer us with this free entertainment, who will?
But whatever happens, pray to God that you don’t sit in the front seat of a daladala, and you are sandwiched between a talkative driver and a loud passenger! And he has to tell you, in a very detailed fashion, how he drove through a police barricade, with his 1954 mini bus, in Mogadishu!
Just the other day I was going to town with mama Boyi, and fortunately we got separate seats, and it happened that I was sitting two rows behind her, where she was sharing a seat with a woman who looked starved.
When they started talking, I thought it was just a normal conversation between passengers, but when I heard her mention my name, I had to pay close attention, and that is how I listened as my wife murdered my character right in front of a stranger (starved).
“My dear, you have not seen drunk people, that fellow I call my husband, if he comes home sober, then I will know he is on the brink of death, because he always comes home drunk like a skunk, can you imagine just the other day he came home in the morning, and he handed me his phone and told me to write my number down because he has been admiring me for some time!”
I am sure she was shocked when she reached town and discovered I was not in the bus!