Githingithia

Plans for saturday* actually included a visit @ Nani in Kitengela and taking a refreshing bath @ Maasai Lodge, but things turned out completly different. And better.

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Waruku (~ New Muthangari), Nairobi, Kenya
I’m leaving on Wednesday and I still wanted to meet my old friend Stephen Kamau wa Gitau who has spent the last 30 years living in Waruku – that area between Kangemi and Muthangari (police station) in Nairobi.

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Welcome to Waruku, home of Nairobi River! Imagine I used to catch crabs here while growing up in this neighbourhood…aterere…

As a matter of fact, i recently blogged about him as I was googling for “Waruku” and came across a story in the DN about his son who’d been taken away (and shot?) by the police for no specific reason. The story also featured a pic of him – so I knew they were talking of him. Meeting him on my 3 weeks stay in Kenya immediately became a mandatory task.

The idea was to track him down in Waruku by asking people from places he’d most likely visit: the local bar/pub. Which I did.

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I described him to one of the barkeepers (“old man, big belly, funny – Kirima-1970s-hairstyle”, full name) and soon got the desired answer that Kamau actually lives near by.

We hadn’t seen each other for ten yeas and I often wondered what he’d be up to these days.

Someone from the bar showed us the way and when I saw him standing there in the crowd that curiously followed the work of ONE man in a Caterpillar (digging up the road), I just couldn’t believe that he actually lives at the very same spot I assumed him to be during all those years.

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Kamau, who’s nicknamed Githingithia (earthquake) due to that Githingithia song he often played, now owns a small duka in the middle of Waruku – some 30m away from Nairobi River. Business isn’t that good, but he somehow managed to survive and considering that he never learned how to read or write, he’s still doing fine with his ~66 years and has remained the same person during all these years: a strong, independent survivor who knows how to feed 15 children and to remain very popular among his neighbours.

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Stephen Kamau “Githingithia” wa Gitau in front of his duka
Meeting Kamau “Githingithia” after all these years really made me very happy and I promised to arrange some sort of Harambee for him among those ppl he’s been working for before.

And the best thing: I have the contact details of his most favourite joint – so whenever I feel like getting in contact with him, I can just send a short message or even “assist” him in one way or another as I consider him part of my extended family…

NB: Mama Daktarimbili, the Lady who runs that Medical Office in Waruku next to the bar and who openly fights with those drunkards whose wifes are her beaten-up customers, put this sign on the bench for her customers. She told me that the Somali refugees, who seek assistance at this Somali branch in Waruku every day, normally occupy and vandalise it, so she was forced to teach them a lesson in her own style….

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With women like her (yes, that’s her arm :-), I know what Madaraka really means and what kind of daily struggles Kenyans take upon them since Independence…
(*= I wrote this on Sunday, 28th May while staying in NBO…)

6 comments » Write a comment

  1. @Jke: Glad you got to meet Mr. Kamau again and am pretty sure he enjoyed seeing you once more. That is very nice of you to think of saidia that man , he deserves more and life ain’t fair but he is still smiling plus at least he has that Duka which may not bring in much but affords him a smile and interaction with his neighborr regardless. Good for you ! and glad u r a buddy with a golden heart!

  2. p.s THOSE PEOPLE need to give him his pension!So many years of service and nothing …C’om that is just WRONG!

  3. Pole JKE for so many comments but that is a brilliant deterrent ! Tough Kiuk mama… no? LOL, plus that mkono looks like a no nonsense one! Nice “sitting here = TOA PESA!

  4. JKE, GATCH YA MAN! that reminds of the neighborhood, yaani life ya mtaani in our great jamuhuri. so sad to recall our brothers are still in the same life style. heritage, proudly jamuhurian

  5. Meni kundu kuu ti kwega uguo mureciria mbica icio ti njega ona hanini ikirai ingi kana ndimunengere yakwa tigai itheru andu aya.

  6. Am doing research and i used some comments from Irena on 7 Responses. But i need her second name to make innitial for her in my references. So help me get her second name