I will never return to ‘Leave But Return Bar’


TANZANIAN currency notes annoy me immensely. They behave as though my pockets are as hot as furnaces from which they flee fast, lest they are converted into ashes.

Being a self-styled great patriot, I am annoyed that even notes bearing the portrait of the pioneer President don’t feel comfortable staying there.

The patriotic spirit sometimes tempts me to import a few currency notes, which I believe would not only not feel tempted to venture out regularly to get a bit of fresh air outdoors, but lodge there happily, till kingdom come.

The other evening, under the pretext of murdering boredom, I deposited the combination of my old bones and exhausted mind into a corner table of a joint bearing a name whose originator deserves a medal for creativity.

It need not be bronze, silver or gold form. Even one from a discarded tin gallon would do. The joint is called ‘Nenda, Kisha Rudi Bar’, which loosely translates as ‘Leave, But Return Bar’, at a semi-independent republic of sorts, in a valley of sorts at Tabata Machimbo, in Dar.

I sipped you-know-what as a peaceful creature; so peaceful that, even if a stupid mosquito were to invite itself to my hand, and inject a few malaria parasites in there, I wouldn’t slap it.

I would let it go ahead, to enable it survive. Moreover, killing a fellow God’s creature over such a minor disturbance would earn me a free flight to hell.

My mind wandered back to the days when I was a pupil in a classroom whose permanently open, and seemingly yawning window, was as large as a Tanroads billboard.

Our English language teacher, Mwalimu Manueli (Emmanuel) Mutanshekya (Don’t make me laugh) was nick-named ‘Look here’ after the expression with which he preceded whatever he wanted to tell a particular pupil.

One bright morning, when the rays of the sun were pretending to be as fierce as the ones that enjoy torturing the innocent sons and daughters of Kalahari desert, Mwalimu ‘Look Here’ asked me to state what the place from which water is drawn is called in English.

I stood up, and, as confidently as the captain of Barcelona would declare that it would donate 300 goals to Manzese Kwa Mfuga Mbwa Football Club – if a match between the two were organized – I shouted: Enchuro.

That’s the word for a well in my tribe’s language, which I had uttered accidentally, apparently due to the hangover of the boiled potato that grandma had donated to me as part of breakfast earlier.

“Look here Wilson…”, the teacher – whose short temper was probably shorter than that of a provoked anti-riot policeman – had started saying.

Before he completed the sentence, as a most probable curtain-raiser for turning me into a hospital’s ICU resident, thanks (thanks?) to being thrashed the way a cruel person does a nuisensical stray dog, I did what you would probably have done.

I jumped through the window and started running home-ward, shouting my grandfather’s name (name withheld) in a loud staccato reminiscent of an activated machinegun.

The teacher ordered the other pupils to chase, catch and deliver me to him, to face the music. As you have correctly guessed, it wouldn’t be music of the thrilling ‘ndombolo ya solo , but ‘ndombolo ya kilema’ variety.

I knew for sure, as sure as today is Sunday, and that you are currently reading the ‘Sunday News’, that he would disfigure me. That’s why I did what Filbert Bayi, Suleiman Nyambui, and Juma Ikangaas did on a far bigger scale a decade or so later; I run for dear life at half the speed of a baby antelope.

By chance, but horribly for my classmates, a stone I threw at a tree hit a beehive, the residents of which went on temporary leave, to teach the innocent creatures who were chasing me a good lesson.

The sin of giving a kihaya answer to an English question, and fleeing from a techer vanished, attention being shifted to my classmates, each one of whose face had swollen to the size of a baby pumpkin. The recollections prompted me to produce a seemingly endless gigantic laughter.

Suspecting that I could be a comedian scheming to flee without settling the bill, the barman came over. What I confidently fished from my pocket to settle it was not a five thousand shillings note I had confidently locked securely in the pocket of my pair of trousers, but one associated with Zambian kwacha.

It was probably three times more valuable, but the fellow patriot wouldn’t accept it as it was technically useless. Olympic Games jumper-style, I leapt over the wide open window of the bar, and did what is poetically known as ‘kuingia mitini’ (to vanish).

As you have correctly guessed, I have not visited, and won’t ever visit ‘Nenda, Kisha Rudi Bar’ again !

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