One of these mornings last week I dropped off at Buguruni, nearly a mile away from the work place and started to walk to office. Not that I had much time that morning and so could cast my eyes more here and there. In this profession of ours, you simply develop curiosity and become a ‘cat of news.’
The most worrying part of my walk to the office is a place where two main roads or highways if you will, cross. And morning being the rush hour, I approached the junction with caution.
Moreover, the path I had taken – service road – was itself full of rouge motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians like myself, going either way. The junction was about fifty metres away when I cast a glance to the left side of the service road and saw two Maasai young men.
Armed with a club, a large knife secure in his waist, they rose as I approached the place and began to walk across. If I had met them somewhere in the countryside and they behaved like, I would have bolted. But I have never thought of an armed Maasai youth in town to be dangerous. At least many African warlike youths have no reason today to start a fight, particularly in urban centres, unprovoked.
Still I watched their move with a keen look. One crossed in front of me to the other side. The other, however, hesitated until I was just too close by and then crossed, but unlike his companion, he stood so close to my path that we rubbed shoulders. In his other hand he had some sticks I considered to be pieces of a tree’s twig used as a toothbrush. In his broken and heavily accented Swahili, he suddenly shot a greeting to me.
“Habari mse?” I answered and said ‘Salama.’ He stopped as he uttered the greeting, his eyes glued on me. I wondered what the heck he wanted because I got the message well that he meant to talk to me about something. Again in his accented Swahili he asked if I wanted a medicine. ‘Unataka dawa?’ May be I looked ill to him, but I was alive and kicking.
No, I did not need any medicine whatsoever, I told him. But he was insistent. “It is a good medicine, teats stomachache,
kidney problems, chest problems and headache.” I still was not interested, but he added fast: “It also boosts your libido,” and he smiled cheekily. I knew why. It is not common that a youth like him tells a man my age such a thing without being taken insolent, but it was also the obvious reason why he and his companion had selected me amidst the mass of those on the road, most of whom were youths.
I stopped to hear more of the good news. When you are on the wrong side of fifties virility is a tricky thing. After all, who told you a man ever wanted himself appear a failure where being a man counts? “What will increase my libido, those sticks?” I asked. “Yes, it is very good,” he said. “This short piece is five hundred, this long one is one thousand and these other pieces are 2,000 a piece.” Relatively, the prices were affordable. My curiosity was not heightened by any unsatisfactory performance somewhere, but the twigs, which I discovered were still fresh, brought out of me more interest because they looked so useless.
However, I also considered the so called libido-booster with some grain of salt. Like always, traditional medicines did not have a clinically tested dosage. A thought flashed through my mind and I conjured the horror of a man, who reportedly had been given a Chinese portion to elongate his manhood, for he had wanted a long one. He had, however, taken more than what his ‘doctor’ had prescribed to him.
The result had been sheer horror and misery. In hardly a day, the organ grew to more than a foot. Keeping it out of sight became a problem. It also failed to work just it was oversize. “So this stick can make me more virile?” I asked him. “Yes, you just chew it and swallow the juice,” said the young Maasai youth. “And you will see the result.” The best way for people selling a traditional medicine in Dar es Salaam is to tell a man that the ‘stuff’ will make the man more of a ‘he goat’ than he already is no matter how young the man maybe.
And potency makes a man proud even if he is as poor as a church mouse. I had to find out the other side of the story to prove the side presented to me by the seller. “If it can make me so potent, what about my partner, can it make her so ‘thirsty’? The Maasai youth smiled a little, then shook his head. “No, it does not work on a woman,” he said. “Never mind. I like it, but I don’t have money now,” I said. “Will you be here tomorrow this time?” “Yes,” he answered and we parted ways. I have not seen the man since then.