How I was branded an unknown person


I SERIOUSLY doubt whether my friend Mlokole Feki will go to heaven when the dreaded day dawns, due to his throat being the transmission route, so far, of beer that could fill Mtera Dam and give water a temporary break from being part of the electricity-generation process.

I doubt, too, whether anyone doesn’t know about the magical google. Magical, I say – and could even sing in my near-frog-like style because once you key a word into google, it produces its meaning at a speed that’s most probably faster than that of lightning.

I envy the species of human beings known in English as ‘new generation’, but whose Kiswahili version, ‘kizazi kipya’, sounds as cool as the breeze with which our Kigamboni compatriots are blessed. ‘Kizani kipyaists’ don’t torture their brains as mercilessly as we, the old timers, did, when they seek information on, or deeper insights into words or concepts.

Back then, someone could remotely nurse an idea of committing suicide, to pre-empt being caned by a history teacher , over difficulty to mention what the capital city of Azerbaijan was. Today, a pupil who is half-asleep, and hasn’t fully recovered from the wine he drank at a disco last night, does what is loosely known as ’to googlelise’ and the answer is produced instantly, as though with the aid of a magician !

‘Googlelising’ is something unavoidable, even by members of the old generation club, fondly known in some circles as Shikamoo Jazz. So, when, the other day, my hopeless memory flatly refused to make me remember what the major wonders of the world were, I silently told it to go to hell. I ‘googlelised’ and two seconds later, it ‘re-informed’ me that the wonders included the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (Oh;God!) and the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (again, Oh; God!).

The ‘re-information’ gladdened me on the scale of a child who had just done justice to a bar of chocolate. But the excitement vanished the way a balloon is deflated. It saddened me that I should be part of a crowd that is excited by so-called wonders of the world that relate to distant lands, probably none of which I will ever savor.

An inner voice told me to draft a proposal – and submit it to those concerned to include some Tanzanians and geographical landmarks in the list of wonders of the world.

Examples include the mzee up north, who did, some years ago, and magnet-like, attract people who included professors to virtually the middle of nowhere, for a dose of a herbal syrup credited with curing diseases that had literally subjected top scientists worldwide, to devastating knock-outs.

Another is the tall, snow-capped mountain, which no-one seems to be in the mood to sneak into the exclusive club of global wonders. The voice told me, however, that, for the best results, I should exile myself briefly to a fairly remote, quiet place, where, alone, it would guide me on the way forward.

On the basis of an intelligent friend’s advice, I settled for Kigugumizi Bar at Mkuranga; to sit in one of the huts in the garden, sip the “sippable”, and reflect deeply.

Half-way there, after alighting from a bus, I was encircles by a group of mainly young people (some having evidently smoked the “senior cigarette”), whose remarks soon evolved into a continuous “Babu asiyejulikana” chant.

My protests were ignored, causing the crowd to swell instead. I was literally under arrest, meantime wondering what the chant – which translates as an unknown, and thus mysterious old man – meant. A sympathetic fellow old man phoned the police, who rushed to my rescue.

The crowd had innocently been amused by the way I was dressed, as well as my ‘I don’t-give-a-bloody-damn’ walking style. In pursuit of a policy of casual off-day dressing policy, I had sent the suit associated with Zambia’s founder-president on a two-day leave.

I wore a cap which during my young adulthood was known as ‘Mungu hanioni’ (God doesn’t see me), due to the front, upper section covering the eyes.

The tummy-to-chest section hosted a T-Shirt bearing a ‘Watch out; I bite’ message; and, below, was something that was half-shorts; half-trousers, like someone who isn’t sure whether he is a Yanga or Simba fan.

My feet hosted a pair of shoes originally called ‘raba mtoni’, and the eyes accommodated dark sunglasses fancied by bodyguards of high-profile personalities.

A Jomo Kenyatta-like flywhisk rounded off the outlook. Looking back, plus the views of friends who heard of the drama, it was obvious that no-one had sought my name and occupation as this would have spoiled the “Babu asiyejulikana” comedy.

From next week, I will wear T-Shirts bearing a bold ‘NUSU MSTAAFU WILSON KAIGARULA’ (Partial Retiree Wilson Kaigarula) message during informal outings, to counter the ‘asiyejulikana’ (unknown person) syndrome.

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