“Of wigs, weaves and hair-raising predicaments” – Timbuktu

| Timbuktu Express

Toon tim x_48

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.

tim toon 60 clean

“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.


“Teachers’ Strike Party Backfires” – Timbuktu

tim toon 59

| Timbuktu Express

It was going to be the mother of all raves to coincide with the father of all strikes by teachers that has paralyzed learning in the country, according to mtunguyaz event organizer, Seki.

“Boss, these youngsters like nothing better than having fun and that is why they organize for themselves bashes with funny names and titles like ‘back to school’, ‘end of term one’, ‘exam kwisha’ and the like,” he informed me.

So I agree with him when he says that there is money to be made if one can drive amateur parties into a professionally done venture.

And what is more, he has this idea that according to him the youth cannot resist: an exclusive drink-all-you-like, invite-only afterparty that will be the talk of the town for years to come.

“Seki you are a genius! “This is a million dollar industry and what better time to test the potential of this business than when all the youth in the country are at home to allow ample time for government and teachers to faceoff,” I declare.

We decide to execute the plan flawlessly because after all, specialists are in charge.

Item No.1 on the agenda, Michelle will help create and popularize a facebook page by the name ‘The mother of all parties’.

All revelers who will have liked the page will pay half as part of the promotion. Then I have to get a competent deejay and the correct sound system to boom all the youth out of their parent’s houses and street corners to come attend my show.

That isn’t a problem as any record label, even those which are yet to sign any artist can offer these services simply as a bonus.

Even if those guys offer you a mono-eyed single-handed MC, you have nothing to worry about. It is like having your bandage changed by the surgeon general. The guy doesn’t even need his glasses to do it.

The venue is of course going to be at the biggest social hall in the city as the party has to live up to its reputation. After signing up wannabes who are willing to curtain raise even for free just to get themselves noticed, we zero in on the event’s big performers.

These are the dudes and dudettes who attract the youth the way a light attracts insects.

We draw up a long list and since we are dangling real cash — 100k per performance, some are sure to take it up.

I leave the listing of the stars in the able hands of my man Seki while I concentrate on the printing of tickets and coordinating the entire affair.

“Timbuktu, dear,” Michelle calls. The youth are commenting on Facebook that they do not want to be caught up in what befell the fans of Tarrus Riley and Alpha Blondie,” I am informed. “What do I do? They are posting pretty weird messages about it too. Do you want me to read some to you?” she asks me.

“Hell, no!” tell them A list stars from right here in Kenya have confirmed as we are choking in talent and do not need to import,” I direct.

They must have bought the idea since ‘ghafla bin vu’ ( I am told that means the same thing as punda si punda), she texts me with information that likes have already exceeded a thousand.

Now everything is in place although securing a license from the authorities involves greasing palms as apparently, this is not the high season when they allow impromptu discos.

If you ask me, they should not have allowed school masters to run amok in the first place. They should have plugged the avalanche of strikes decisively by telling the MPs to go jump in the lake.

On the day of the event, the venue is packed to the rafters and the box office is reporting amazing sales of tickets. Some of the curtain raisers almost bring down the house while others are booed off stage.

The star performer is about to grace the stage when I get the text that all may not be well.

Trust these incompetent Kenyans to interrupt just when I am dreaming of registering officially as a promoter. Party poopers extraordinaire!

“Whadduyuh mean a slight problem?” I ask shifting my cigar to the side of my mouth. These roles take a lot of swag to execute, you know.

“He won’t show for the show,” is what I am simply told over the phone. “What about his superstar wife? Can’t she hold fort for her husband or maybe all women are the same?” I ask. “The supreme diva is pregnant,” is the answer I get.

I take one look at the crowd and decide I am not the one to break the news to them. Being a hostage of Chinedu sounds like a much safer option. Besides the police are enquiring how alcohol got to be served in an ‘Odijo Strike Bash’. The box office attendants have disappeared with the loot and MC Jino Moja is the only pillar holding up the crumbling party.

I can’t stand the temperature and slowly make my way out of the venue and vanish away into the dark night away from all the hulabaloo.

Hope by the time dawn approaches, I will have been deported to Timbuktu.

“Love in a time of police crackdowns” – Timbuktu

tim toon 58By Timbuktu Express

For every action, there is an equal and opposite feminine overreaction according to Newton’s law of relationships. That may be an understatement according to me because when I lost all our stuff, Michelle didn’t just overreact, she went totally ballistic.

She screamed, cursed, clawed with her lethal red fingernails (thank God she missed my face) and managed to fumigate me out of our matrimonial house with pure vitriol.

I see you wondering where one can purchase a canister of this effective pest control, all you have to do if you have infestation in your house is just to hire the girl and she will smoke them all out in record time.

Anyway I am destitute as I cannot face the fury of this woman who imagines that she was scorned by me beyond redemption. I have no option but to go seek asylum from a cousin of mine who lives in a tent in the Administration Police camp.

I drive into the AP camp humming a favorite tune and head directly to my cuzo’s tent.

“Is the wife still picking on you? Why did you decide to look me up today of all days? Mbona umechapa mtunguyaz? ,” he might be a cop with all his maswali mingi but there is no way I am spilling the beans before we crawl inside that tent of his. The gossip levels in such an overcrowded tenement is usually catastrophic. Already, all the neighboring cops and their wives are angling close to catch nuggets of our conversation.

They have no shame, these off duty police officers and their spouses. If they did, the government would have built them decent living quarters ages ago.

“Michelle amenipa mateke like I am a shetani,” I tell him when we finally get out of earshot.

The guy laughs so hard he shifts his AK to his left hand so that he can slap my back.

“That wife of yours is my hero. Imagine we are friends on Facebook. I love the way she has managed to tame one as wild as you used to be.” That is all the sympathy I get from a real cousin.

Anyway, the guy informs me that I may not be in luck as the PSC (or was it Kimaiyo?) has seen it fit to transfer him to another town and he is off to book the lorry that is to transport his earthly belongings.

“Wherever you go, I go too. This time Michelle will have to come looking for me, then I will play hard to get for a change,” I smile sardonically as I envision her panic.

I am left packing the one washing basin, mattress and his spare cop uniform while wondering where I can get some money to buy Michelle’s affection.

A loud cough shakes me out of my reverie and a guy slithers through the tent flap. “I hear your cousin is getting transferred.” Obviously word gets around this place too fast for comfort.

“What can I do for you, mister?” I ask the shady fellow.

“I am willing to give you fifty thousand if you carry my luggage in the police transport that will be moving your cousin.”

“Fifty grand just like that!” I exclaim. “I will carry your stuff VIP not among the filth this guy has,” I tell him.   “Shhhhhhhhh. Not so loud, you fool,” He says as he pulls out a fat envelop. “I need the cargo to be transported by none other than the police,” he says as he hands over the money.

“Hey, boss, you said fifty and here is only twenty five,” I moan after counting with trembling fingers.

“You will get the rest at the point of delivery,” he says as his boys heave in a large sack, as if on cue.

All I can thing about now is how will get back to Michelle with the dough when my cousin returns with the police lorry.

I load the lorry, and we are soon on our way. Hardly do we do a couple of kilometers than we are stopped at a roadblock. I didn’t know cops flag down their own kind.

“Afande kwani unahama roundi hii? Is it a promotion or demotion?” these maswali ya polisi are too much.

Just then a police patrol car screeches to a halt beside us and none other than the PPO jumps out his pistol at the ready.

“We have been tipped by our informant that drug dealers are using police transport to ferry narcotics so we have to inspect the contents of this truck,” he announces.

They check through and right under the mattress upon which my cousin’s mini laptop desk was perched, they pull out the sack.

Stacked inside was a haul of drugs and obviously, I was taken in as the prime suspect, of course after the money was confiscated.

I invoke my right to make a phone call and call Michelle.

“Baby, please, come get me from the police station, I plead. I will be good forthwith,” I am crying into the phone. “NKT,” she clicks and hangs up on me. I guess I have to face my mademoni all alone.