FOR your info to use the circumcised, digital era version of information the older some individuals become, the crazier the ideas that compete to enter their brains, and push out sane ones. In some cases – I strongly suspect mine being amongst them – the crazy ideas outnumber the normal ones.
I am reminded of what an ex-prisoner once told ( most probably lied to) me: that there were more particles of sand than grains of rice in the food the prison warders pretended to donate to him.
One of the latest crazy ideas prompted me to enquire into why some landmarks in residential localities were named after specific individuals. I started with Kwa Bibi Kizee, which loosely translates as ‘An Old Woman’s Place’.
My mission climaxed on a nasty note that the title of a novel by a late colleague-friend John Rutayisingwa captures nicely: Ngumi Ukutani (Hitting a brick wall). No-one knew what her name was, and in which house she lived, which now hosts a modern structure.
I didn’t get even half a hint, let alone one, over why she had been famous enough to warrant the place bearing her loose reference as an old woman, as well as who her husband, grandchildren or great grandchildren were.
Out of sheer impatience to get rid of me – a pointlessly inquisitive old man – a few people I’m almost sure are post-death hell entrants, claimed that they had heard from people who had heard from people who had earlier heard from older individuals whose names they withheld, that the ‘bibi’ had been what you’ve guessed correctly, and for which she was greatly feared.
Apparently wanting to spice up the narrative, they recounted fictitious stories of black cats making swift, 360 degree U-turns whenever they spotted her moving from opposite directions! ‘Kwa mwarabu’ was my next stop, but there, too, I did what in beautiful Kiswahili is half-poetically known as ‘kutoka kapa’; scoring a zero.
Over the nearly one hour of my exploration, not even a single person of even very distant Arabic origin walked along its streets, let alone living or conducting business there.
There wasn’t even a very distant hint of the Arab’s name – as there most unlikely wouldn’t be from brilliant climatologists, that, before Christmas, the Sahara desert would be flooded due to torretorial rains. But ‘Kwa Mwarabu’ has stuck as the neighbourhood’s name that no-one dare replace, lest, I assume people fear, the angry spirits of the original Arab to whom it is attributed, decides to resurface briefly and unleash its wrath ”.
I had no difficulties finding out why ‘Mtoni kwa Aziz Ali’ bears that name, because there are historical records to that effect, related to the person who was saluted for his role in the Uhuru struggle, as well as contributions to charitable causes.
Tourist-style, though, I decided to stroll along some streets of Mtoni kwa Aziz Ali in Temeke District, to get the feel of the place I hadn’t been to, since I became a Dar es Salaam resident four decades ago.
Please, believe what I am about to tell you next, even if your name is Thomas, and may be tempted, for once, to become a much-belated replica of the Biblical bearer of the name, for whom doubting was one of his hobbies.
I was about to criss-cross with a fellow senior citizen, Mzee Jina Kapuni, who tried but failed to dodge me. He was in the company of a very young lady. After detaching himself temporarily from her, he rapidly told me that he had come to Mtoni to engage in a bit of social mischief, hoping that his wife wouldn’t find out, as wouldn’t people like me, who live, as he does, in faraway Tabata.
I swore that I wasn’t on a similar mission as his, as he had strongly suspected, but seemed unconvinced that my Mtoni tour was historical exploration in nature. I swore, furthermore, that I wouldn’t leak his sensitive secret. He thanked me profusely and promised to reward me in grand style, but I didn’t take him seriously.
The other day, I was the chief guest at a very big event in my residential neighbourhood, whose nature the organizers didn’t disclose, in order to give me, family members, relatives and friends, a huge surprise.
The focus was inaugurating a nameless street traversing what had over the past few months become quarter a hectic township. It had henceforth become MZEE KAIGARULA STREET!
I was wildly cheered by many people who cherished me as one of the grand senior citizens, and for which the grassroots leadership deemed it appropriate that I be fittingly honoured. Deep down my heart, however, I know where the truth lies.
The chairman, Mr Jina Kapuni, engineered the reward as an incentive to keep my small mouth shut about the Mtoni kwa Aziz Ali secret !