No I don’t mean kamba the rope in Swahili, Kamba the tribe!
I have done a lot of crazy things because of an offer of free food; my mom knows if she wants me to do anything she has to buy lunch, not give me money for lunch, but buy actual food not junk, I usually go through three counties to go to my cousin’s for her sumptuous chapatis mind you I use more fare than the amount of chapatis I can eat (yes, chapati is my favorite starch), but then again her home cooked chapatis are better than Chege’s my chapati guy in my neighbourhood. I am that guy if you mention free booze probability is I may not show up, but mention free food and I might show up earlier than everyone else, I think I have been able to turn up for all lunch dates this year, well as for meeting for a drink… My friends are people I have had time to share a meal with, if you consider yourself a friend and we haven’t done lunch, you might as well be a good acquaintance; these are people who know I take my time with food, well, calling a spade a spade, I am a slow eater, a very slow eater. Just to illustrate how slow, I serve dinner when nine o’clock news is beginning and I will be finishing when sports section is about to start. To eat with me, you will need patience, I was that child that completely refused to eat and had to have someone who is painstakingly patient, that is where I got to learn and hear so many folklore as my mother tried to make me finish my food. Now I may not need coaxing to eat, but the time ti finish the food hasn’t changed much, I do take my time, Henry knows this very well, he tells me to shut up and eat, because if I talk as I eat I forget that I am eating, seems I can’t multitask between talking and eating….
The allure of free food
So last weekend Miss E, Mr. T and yours truly got invited for a party, there was going to be plenty to eat. Mr. T and myself are bachelors so free food on a Saturday is very much welcome, never mind the fare (things we do to avoid the hustle of cooking, not that we can’t cook, I believe I can make an appearance at the “dad’s can cook” show if only I was at ease with my sperm meeting an egg and forming a zygote till a mini replica of the mom and myself is born! The opportunity cost here, being the bus fare, was the option to give way comparison to the free food). We arrive late afternoon and we meet several ladies and other guys who had been invited by the host. Food was in plenty as we had been promised oh and there was chapati, boy did I devour those wheat products. The discourse started on polite topics and the normal politics as people are still getting acquainted. When we had finished our servings, topics started getting tribal, well one lady was the one fueling the discussion.
Kambas are silly
This lady, let us call her Miss B, she starts saying how she works in my home county, I want to hear what she has to say so I never even hint that’s my home. Most people assume am from the West part of Kenya, if you assume I will let you make an ass of yourself I have problems volunteering information especially if I don’t trust you. Miss B starts making fun of Ken wa Maria’s fundamentals, I have no problem with that. I make fun of the song every time and I never take that seriously anyway. Then it goes to how Kamba’s suck at cooking, here I start listening and reduce my talk. If I went to Turkana and they give me raw blood, which is a delicacy by their standards, am I allowed to judge and say they suck? If Turkana’s and Kamba’s have the same cultures then I can try to have a basis for such a premise. Anyway I let it go and don’t bother contributing to the discussion which is becoming heated. “I hate the Kamba’s and I would never get married to one,” Miss B declares. This gets all of us off guard, particularly myself, I felt my stomach turn and I wanted to go and vomit everything I had eaten. She goes to spew bad words to her tribesmen who have married from the Kamba tribe. “Out of the more than 42 tribes in Kenya I’d rather stay a spinster than get married to a Kamba,” Miss B continues. At this point I am tempted to tell her I am a Kamba, but to me this is very repulsive I don’t even see the need to engage, I tell Mr. T I need to leave and we decide to leave.
To say I was disappointed is an understatement; I usually assume my generation is the most cosmopolitan of in Kenya. I thought we were more accommodating. When I ask for your name and you say you are Mary, it never occurs to me, which tribe is Mary. Is she a Kikuyu or a Taita, I am more interested in the person Mary is I may take months before I get to know the tribe, by then I will already have decided if Mary is someone I can trust and form any meaningful relationship (friendship or otherwise) regardless of the tribe. My best friends are drawn from different tribes and it never occurred to me to rate my friendship based on where they come from, i.e. say Henry based on Miraa or anything else associated with where he comes from. If tribe is what makes good relationships then I think my mother and father would still be happily married based on their tribe and that their culinary tastes would be in sync (muthokoi)…
I am still disturbed by the occurrences of last weekend and now I think I should maybe start reviewing where offers of free food lead me. I don’t need to enjoy a meal then have to vomit it late due to disgust… I guess my bubble is bust and the generations x, y, z in my country, Kenya, are as tribal as ever. If you ask for my tribe within the first meet I think I can do without you, as an acquaintance, someone I know anything!!!!
Do you think there is hope for us? To embrace our differences and become stronger as a Nation? Leave your thoughts below, I’d like to hear.
P.S. On something totally unrelated am one kilogram away from my desired (read BMI) weight, I know when Alex reads this she will want to slap me but yes I said it. But the six-pack is damn elusive lol, good thing some clothes which were starting to grow small can fit hence I can’t apply my three-month rule :-). If I don’t wear anything for more than three months I give it away, that’s why on a weekend you might see me with a torn polo shirt and very old bata bullets, I hope that’s not being miserly is it?