| Timbuktu Express
I am broke and it seems this is becoming routine. The matatu as they say ‘is on stones’ meaning broken down.
I wish vehicles were like people and can be given simple, cash-free mouth to mouth resuscitation every time they act up.
On the other hand, Michelle is also acting up. Her problem is she has not been to the salon in a long time. The gusto with which she harangues me would make you believe that fixing one’s hair is the forth human need after food, shelter and clothing.
But I cannot be fooled because I have the misfortune of intricate knowledge of her. To begin with, the woman is as bald as an egg with just a few tufts here and there upon which they sew a weave when she visits the salon. The entire shaggy mass is then pickled in oil as hot rollers hold it in place to give it a shiny gloss.
Were it not for the fact that her head starts smelling like the operation theatre of a cheap salon after some time, I would appreciate all the money that gets poured into the project.
The whole drama however makes me wish that I could sometimes sleep beside a woman whose head smells human.
“Honey, just this once pray for me,” I plead with her as I head out of the house. “You know how much I would like to meet all your demands and this is guy is promising me a job on the strength of my friend’s recommendation,” I continue.
“Just don’t feed me lies when you come back. I am getting fed up,” she simply said as the looked at her image in the dressing table.
I keep time, dressed to kill in my crisp suit, as I knock on the hotel chain manager’s door. After introducing myself as the cousin to a friend of someone he knew, we settle down to business.
“The only available vacancy is that of a Maasai,” he tells me blandly. “What do you mean, Sir, after seeing my degree. I will never be a watchman,” I vehemently protest.
“I did not mean a watchman but a Maasai showman. These guys are quite popular with the tourists and you will be surprised how much in tips they take home in addition to the 5K retainer and free meals from the hotel.
“But what if the tourists find out I’m a fraud?” I protest. “Will I not get lynched?”
“I assure you they can’t find out and even if you decided to give yourself away, they won’t understand. Their knowledge of Kiswahili begins and ends with ‘Jambo’.”
I take the job just for the tips. I hear these come in the form of real dollars and Euros and not the local legal tender whose value erodes with every successive regime.
I join our leader who outfits me with a loin cloth, traditional bling, weapons and a pair of shoes made of tires. “All you have to do is leap as high as you can and chant the chorus when the rest are singing.” And that does it for my orientation.
Before we get on stage that evening, a makeup technician fixes a wig on my bald head. It is then smoothed over with mud and animal fat “to make it as colorful as the sun rising over the Savannah” she says.
Poor me, I am no different from Michele with a fake wig dripping of smelly fat. But then again my wig will make money while hers punches a hole in my pocket.
We troop out at the appointed hour after the guests have been dined and are busy getting drunk. The songs go mighty well and we climax to a deafening crescendo when the spirit of the wild takes over and we start leaping high up in the air.
The wazungus are happy and they cheer and clap at our antics as some join the dance.
We almost bring down the house with renditions out of Africa. I can’t wait to start receiving the tips. So when an old German lady approaches me, I welcome her with a big wide Kenyan smile.
“Jambo Herr Masai,” she greets me. “Jambo yourself lady. Hakuna matata,” I yell at her.
That was as far as we could communicate but I understood when she invited me to have a drink on her. I knew European money was headed my way.
We toast our new found friendship after the usual photo shoot during which she stands rather close. I must say the only other thing of interest besides her money is the sweet smell in her hair unlike Michelle’s.
“Mercedes,” I say the only German word I know as I imitate driving. She smiles happily and launches into her language. I of course am interested with what she has to say so I bring in a waiter who understands Deustche.
“Ich bin eine einsame Witwe. Sie wäre mein schöner Maasai Freund einen guten Ehemann,” she says. I look at the translator who shakes his head in disbelief.
“Are you always this lucky mtunguyaz?” he asks winking at me. A kaleidoscope of Deusche Marks in varying denominations flash before me. “She says her husband is dead and you are strong and handsome enough to fit into the old Kampfer’s (soldier) boots,” he tells me with the air of one informing a Kenyan that they have won Tetemesha na Safaricom.
I am shocked beyond words and excuse myself to visit the bathroom. I know I won’t get a Mercedes, but one wife is more than enough. I just hope I don’t get nightmares of her dead husband chasing after me with his Kanonn.