Anyone who knows me can tell you how much of a city kid I am! When you tell me about cows and goats and manure and farms and getting water from the river I literally cringe! It’s safe to say the farm life is not exactly what tickles my fancy!
So two weeks ago, my friend Alice challenged me to visit the Western part of our beautiful country, from which I hail from btw (shocker, I know!). You should have seen how my face contorted like when your mother hears you refused to do the dishes! I was up in arms, excuses at my fingertips at how I’ll get sunburnt or how I hate being chased by ducks (which happened to some kid in our esto!) etc etc! Finally I gave into the dare, lest I be the one to lose at such small small things! So I packed my rucksack, hopped into a shuttle, game face on, with a mission to prove to her, and myself that I can actually do this! I can be a farm boy! You see the things an ego can make you do! After all, milking a cow ain’t that hard! Surely, just pulling the titties in the gravitational direction for some drops of liquid gold can’t be rocket science!
Anyway so when I spotted an overloaded mat written Nile Perch Sacco whilst hearing my fellow “matmates” korogaing that luo with its heavy “Bs” and “Ds” (take your mind off the gutter!), I knew I had arrived in Kisumu City! The city famed for its finger licking fish and women who can literally break your neck with their ginormous cakes (I wanted to say their “sianda madongo madongo” but it just sounded nasty! #teammafisi). So yeah, while being in this city where sweating is as ordinary as eating roasted maize by the roadside, (catch me dead sweating in Nairobi!), I picked up some pointers which seem to clearly define this metropolis!
1. Your Ass is Our Ass – Not to sound profane, but men in this city are all about that sianda life! And get this, they aren’t ashamed to say it, sometimes in the crudest of manner! I remember some chic was passing in front of me and a random guy shouted “Sweetie, ebu come nishike hizo ma%$#&* nione kama ni soft venye zinakaa!” I have never been so shocked to hear such words in broad daylight at 4pm on a Wednesday! Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!!!!! Did I actually hear those words? These things actually happen? In real life? The guy just couldn’t keep his urges to himself and had to let the whole world know he is horny? My gosh! I was just speechless! And funny enough, I seemed to be the only one in bewilderment! So is it like a thing here to crave publicly for someone’s ass? I even thank God it was daytime ‘cause I can imagine what would have happened if it was night time! That was the extreme case though! Most guys were like “Eh Mungu kumbe anajua kuumba nyaber!” “Hawa warembo watatumaliza aki! Atimang’o yawa!” “Kuja nikupeleke kwangu nikuonyeshe mazuri!” “Eh kweli wewe umebeba soko yote!” Now I was just stunned that these things were being said so openly and carelessly and casually like buying bread at the shop! You know those videos on YouTube of “Walking As A Woman In NYC”? Someone should definitely do a Kisumu version! Vera Sidika are you up for it?
2. Luo Women Are All About That Weave – Now I’ve seen plenty of weaves in Nairobi but nothing beats the multicolor and layers that awaited me in Kisumu! Whether it’s real, fake, Brazilian, Eurasian, Malaysian, Abuja, plastic, shiny, blow in the wind, thick, sultry, rainbow-coloured, “akya ang’o” etc etc, it is in the thousands in Kisumu! Believe it or not, you can’t walk 10cm without spotting a weave! But I love how they style it with such swag! Some had half bald heads with weaves taking the other half, some had accessories clipped up in there while others just looked like they borrowed that weave from sixty decades ago! Either way, Kisumu women got their weave game on! 🙂
3. Luo Women Are All About That Outfit – Now this is where I was just in awe the whole time! Blame it on that summer time weather! Those women dress to kill, like for real (you see what I did there? Am I rapper right now? No? Arrrrgggggggg!) What fascinated me the most was sometimes they dressed up but they weren’t necessarily going anywhere! You know how in Nai you dress up when you’re going for an event or meeting up with pals or for something special? There it’s dress up all day, everyday! Like you’d find someone with a killer sequined crop top or a high low and a form fitting pencil skirt accessorised in multicoloured beaded bracelets and ankle boots. And when you ask them where they are heading they’re like “Naenda tu kwa duka!” Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!!!!! People these days dress up kununua kitunguu ya 10 bob na cabbage ya 50! What world I’m I living in? I clearly have been wearing the wrong apparel when going to buy that Royco sachet! It’s official…am dumping my blue slippers and torn shirt (Don’t judge me! I was going for that distressed kinda swag! Haha!) and my short shorts when I get back! Ready-to-Wear Givenchy tank tops with summer shorts and leather boots, here we come!
4. Luos Are Not Angry Looking, It’s The Heat – I’ve always wondered why luos tend to grimace and contort their faces especially at the eye brow area! And I finally found my answer… THE HEAT! (Thanks Toni Braxton! You had the answer all along!) Now that heat ain’t no ordinary kinda heat! Let’s just start with how that sun always seems to be overhead! I don’t even know how light skinned guys manage in Kisumu yani! That sun chapas you at certain unavoidable angles mpaka you just turn black! And remember that time you’re in a vest, so prepare to turn 30 shades darker! Imagine walking through a tarmacked city that is sweltering whilst your blood is boiling trying to look up to see where you’re headed. Somehow you’ll just have to kunja that face to avoid the sun getting into your eyes! The result? A roasted, contorted, angry looking dark face! Mad respect if you live in Kisumu! How you handle that heat every day, coupled with mosquitoes and sianda-hungry men is beyond applause! #winning And don’t get me started on the body evaporation a.k.a. sweat!!! You know how in Nai you mostly sweat in the armpits, if you sweat at all! Haha! There you have a variety of options, of which you have no say over! We’re talking eyebrow sweat, boob sweat, eyeball sweat, ass crack sweat and the list just keep on going! Antiperspirant is certainly not your friend in Kisumu! 😀
5. Makangas Get The Best Views & Aircon – So after visually sampling the delights of the city, I decided to hop on a mat and head to shagz! Shout out to Nile Perch Sacco again! That is just the coolest name ever! I even had to look out for Omena Sacco just incase it was carrying gunias of omena on the roof for that IG moment! #anythingforsocialmedia Anyway so I board the mat only to be told to move a little closer to the window! Me am thinking maybe the woman next to wants to adjust her seating position but no! Another person joins us on our row! Now in Nairobi, guys normally seat 3 guys in a row, but here, 4 is the standard and if space allows it (what space? From where? Is it that they’ll put half our ass on the roof just to accommodate more people?) they’ll sit even 5 guys! So me am shocked, stumped, but what can I say! Everyone’s facials seems to be unmoved! So I squeeze a bit towards the window, skin on glass, sweat dripping down my arm, grinding on it as the mat begins to move and praying to the Lord the plump lady next to me doesn’t suddenly move to the right when we turn the sharp corner ahead! And the thought of her sweaty armpits leaving some sort of odour on my clothes from all that heat! Then I have to reluctantly convince people that I really had a bath in the morning and that ain’t my sweat on my own clothes, only for them to throw me side eye shade of disbelief! Ah ah now! I ain’t going through this trauma! Not me oooooooooooooooooh! So get this, we’re sitting more or less 4-5 guys in a row and the makanga will hang out of the mat the whole way! As in whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!!!! What if that car breaks? Won’t he be thrown into Lake Victoria and be devoured by hyacinth! Oh well, at least I won’t have to pay fare! #shade And every mat that passed us in the opposite direction seemed to be adopting the same travel arrangements! With even grandmothers hanging outside ’cause the mat was so packed! How I wish my Nairobi diva side came alive but when in Rome! Mind you we passed police checks and the cops seemed unfazed! Plus who wants to argue in that heat and contort my unsunscreened face further! So along the way I saw the old Peugeots acting as mats, carrying people in the boots, the bonnet, the roof, on the wheels, literally maximising the available transportation space! And there was still left over space to carry chicken, maize, goats, cows and a donkey in that very same Peugeot! Eh, that was quite a travel experience!
All in all I did enjoy my adventure on the rural side of life! Riding that donkey to the farm was all sorts of awesome coolness! And hanging out with family is always a blessing. Such moments bring you priceless peace and joy. Did I get to milk a cow or slaughter a goat or kill a chicken or wake up to go get water from the river? Hell no! My grandmother insisted I should continue sleeping! And you know what they say, grandma is always right! 😉
For more awesome travel pics and stories and unwritten fun times on the road, check out my IG @billyoncemckenzie. Oh and btw, sianda madongo madongo means big ass! 🙂