BY sheer good luck or maybe an indirect curse, the sons and daughters of the soil above which our village was located, were in as deep love, as two birds (one male; the other female, of course) were, with a local brand of wine.
Before I proceed, my friend (never mind if you’re something else that you know) I would donate one million’ T’ shillings to you, as opposed to its ‘K’ or ‘U’ cousins, if you can convince me that you’ve ever encountered a sentence as long as that one.
Never mind, though, because you know, as much as I do that a long sentence has never killed anyone (at worst) or injured anyone (at best). The wine in question is called ‘lubisi’. It is distantly yellowish and its taste is so fantastic that I am ready to donate my last but one shilling to whoever would conclusively declare that I am a liar, if what I am about to say next turns out to be ‘uongo mtupu’.
I can almost swear, but dare not because I fear ending up in hell in case I may have done what is known as ‘kubugi stepu’, that some European tourists who tasted it, decided to boycott the drinks of their specific countries there and then.
They declared that, the ‘taste’, derived from the unique combination of ripe bananas, millet and water produced a delightful enough sensation in the veins of the drinker’s blood to boost one’s morale tremendously. I am not saying this out of a desire to be feted as a mischievous story inventor (sorry, story teller) but to set the record straight by one hundred per cent.
I was in my early teems when I witnessed two Europeans (a man and a lady) who were guests of our head teacher, drinking ‘lubisi’. My discovery was purely accidental, but unlike real accidents in which innocent God’s children die in road accidents, or when a plane gets fed up of harassing the sky and lands in a forest below, I was neither killed nor injured.
Being an amateur spy, a skill that I would have put to admirable national service as a policeman instead of boring you to near-death through this blah-blah, I hid behind some banana groove in the head teacher’s shamba. From there, I watched the goings-on in the shade of a mango tree in front of the house, where the hosts and guests were.
I didn’t hear what they were saying and it wouldn’t have made much difference if I were nearer. For up till then, my English vocabulary was limited to things like “ Good morning teacher”, “This is a table” and My father’s name is Mister Nicodemasi Migisha Mingi” (many blessings).
However, I noted some motions, which made me believe, as I believe in God, that something strange was going on. The male guest started dancing a strange sort of dance which I had until then seen only once, courtesy of a mobile film service that toured the village twice or three times a year.
The female guest I strongly suspected was his wife joined him . Then, wonder of wonders, the head teacher started dancing too, but minus the wife, who had most probably been prohibited from doing so.
Oh, God; what’s next? I guess I am not in my right senses, for by which medium dare I expect God to answer my question ? Oh, yes; my senses are back. Lubisi is quite some brew, a crude combination of distant lemon juice, whisky and something known in Kiswahili as ‘ukwaju’, whose English version you are probably also not aware of. I felt like going over to the guests and tell them something about ‘lubisi’ that could have shocked them into quarter- death.
Had circumstances been friendly, I would have disclosed to them something about the way ‘lubisi’ was brewed, which would have tempted them to brand me the greatest liar since Adam and Eve. But I swear mine would have been absolute truth by one hundred percent; not a percentage point more or less. I would have disclosed that part of the lubisi-brewing process was for a few men using bare feet to soften bananas.
There was no possibility, of course, of circumstances becoming friendly, in the same way as no such circumstances could be created, to enable Vingunguti Machinjioni Super Bomber Football Club to score even half a goal in a match against Barcelona.
I bumped into a ‘mzungu’ gentleman at a social event recently, over 50 years later. He was excited when he learnt that I was a Kagera Region citizen. It turned out that he was a grandson of the (longdeceased) couple I narrated about earlier. He was eager to taste ‘lubisi’, about which his ‘babu’ spoke so fondly. I am scratching my snowwhite head over how to tackle the tough assignment.