Wednesday, 22 March 2017

MASHUURU

EDWIN KIPTANUI CHIRCHIR edchirchir@yahoo.com edchirchir85@gmail.com

MASHUURU SHOPPING CENTRE FROM GOOGLE MAPS
Mashuuru is a small dusty town (or shopping centre) depending on your attitude and mood at the time you are thinking about it. It is a place hidden somewhere on the aching knees of Kajiado County. Somewhere 70 kilometres East of Kajiado town. It is the headquarters of Mashuuru sub-county. It is also not very far from Emali. Oh! how I wish I could visit Emali someday, because the name sounds like a place with very many rich people.

The reason as to why I was there in 2014 is not important, because a man sometimes has to be left alone to attend to some personal adventures. In other words, a lion leaves home when he feels like leaving home and goes home when he feels like going home.

Now, there are several ways through which men  get to know one another. One such way is the kind of complicated arrangement where your missus befriends another man's missus. The man's missus introduces your missus to her man. Your missus then introduces you to the man, where you lie to one another saying,"It is a pleasure to meet you, I am Baba Alex and you are who?"

"I am Baba Dan," replies the man as you shake hands. No smiles and no hugs, only lots of suspicion in the air.

Thanks to such an arrangement, there is this man in Kitengela, whom I only know as Baba Ian (A modern version of a Maasai gentleman, who does not wear 'shukas' and cannot jump to the tune of Maasai songs to save his own life) who had offered to drop me using his personal car, at Sultan Hamud, along Nairobi - Mombasa highway, so that I could 'catch' a motorbike to Mashuuru through a long dusty road. One problem is that he wanted us to leave at 4:00 am to get to Sultan Hamud at around 6:00 am. The other problem is that I had to cough out Ksh 800, to get to Mashuuru from Sultan Hamud, using a motor bike, a two hour journey, so I said, "No thank you."

I took the second option which was; go to Kajiado town, get a minibus to Mashuuru, Cough out Ksh 300 and get to Mashuuru in 4 hours! Did you get that? 4 hours and the way Nairobi folks whine and scream when they get stuck in traffic for just one hour.

Even though I disappointed the guy called Baba Ian, I made sure I asked him a lot of questions, for example whether I could find clean water, lodges, toilets, food, soap, tissue paper in Mashuuru and he told me I would not be disappointed.

So, I got to Kajiado at around 10:00 am, which was four hours earlier because I had been instructed to be there by 2 pm, in order to get the minibus. There are actually two minibuses heading to Mashuuru. One leaves at 2:30 pm while the other leaves at 3:00pm. You miss those two and your goose is cooked, because you will have to travel the following day, unless you are willing to go all the way to Sultan Hamud.

So, I got into the first minibus at 2:30 pm, having booked a ticket as early as 11:00 am, in readiness to traverse the expansive Kajiado County, where I expected to smile at a giraffe, expecting it to hopefully smile back.

Fortunately, there were no excess passengers. Most of the travellers were elderly people who I believe had been to Kajiado to sell a cow or two. The elderly people (both men and women) had extra large ear piercings, which could accommodate the 25 ml kiwi shoe polish can. There was also too much luggage taking over the floor of the bus. A number of household items and food stuffs being transported back home. The funny part  though, is that most of the luggage, taking over almost 70% of the floor space, was the Keg beer barrels. I had not expected to find a single pub in Mashuuru. I had not expected that the maasai drink lots of beer. I actually expected them to indulge in mainly milk and blood. The road is not tarmacked, all the way to Mashuuru which explains why the journey takes four hours. I asked an elderly woman, next to me why this was so and she said in her scanty Swahili, that the political leaders always promise to improve the road network during campaigns, but once they win, they retreat silently back to Karen or Muthaiga in Nairobi.

I saw only two shopping centres between Mashuuru and Kajiado. I do not even know their names because there were no sign posts. So I will call them shopping centre A and B.

At shopping centre A, we found lots of maasai women selling ornaments. The driver picked a drunk old man, to give him a lift to shopping centre B. The old man was speaking in maa language.

In his drunken stupor, the man was uttering very dirty words. Words which I suppose were the maa version of 'F' words. You might be wondering how I knew the words were dirty, yet I could not understand the maa language. Well, that was because most of the maasai occupants of the vehicle were uttering the word 'Osho!' while holding their heads, which tells you that they were shocked and embarrassed by the old man's words.

At some point, the woman seated next to me holds her head and says, "Osho! Aiyayayaya, maneno chafu kabisa (exclaiming how dirty the words from the old man were).

The old man alights at shopping centre B to everyone's relief, including myself.

Now, for  you to drive all the way to Mashuuru, you need to be an expert driver because the road is rough. Our driver even drove through some dry river bed because there was no bridge, which made me wonder how they manage to do that on a rainy day or may be it never rains at all. After crossing the seasonal river, the driver went ahead to make some dangerous maneuvers along the river bank, because there was no other road!

Not far from that river, we found a police road block, manned by five male officers and 'womanned' by one female officer, who had constructed a grass thatched makeshift structure on one side of the road. I really could not understand, because very few vehicles go to Mashuuru, so clearly these were not traffic policemen. May be they were taking care of other issues such as smuggling, but then, what can you 'smuggle' out of Mashuuru apart from the underage daughters of the soil?

We eventually arrived and drunkards will be happy to note that there are lots of pubs (playing lots of modern tunes) in Mashuuru. I dare say they are more than residential houses, churches (Did I even see a church in Mashuuru?) and police roadblocks in Kajiado county.

I found a lodge, costing Ksh 500, but I don't remember the name. It was being run by a maasai woman, so the name might have been 'Mama Ole Somebody' guest house. The lodge has a pit latrine and next to the pit latrine is a bathroom. The bed is beautiful and strong (couples wink! wink! he he he), the beddings are clean, no bedbugs and lice, noise free, no T.V, but they are connected to electricity.

You can get warm water for bathing in the morning, which the woman boils using firewood on a traditional fireplace. No instant showers folks. The reason I chose that lodge was because I had some reading to do and the others were next to pubs, hence too noisy.

Mashuuru is warm but dusty. While there, you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, with the place being generally flat and with very few trees. The horizon is dark and you cannot see the characteristic yellow illumination of the sky above nearby towns because the towns are far far away. The only saving grace is that you can see the moon, which assures you that you are still on planet earth.

There is a police post nearby, a girls secondary school, boys secondary school and a primary school. There is also a dispensary in case you get sick, but any critical illnesses like those diseases which threaten to uproot your liver and transfer it to your forehead. will either take you to Kajiado town or Sultan Hamud.

Now, picture this. You have been accused of having the intention to 'smuggle' underage daughters of the soil from Mashuuru and selling them off to some Sultan in Saudi Arabia and the Maasai are threatening to drive spears and swords through your heart, how do you make a quick exit from Mashuuru? The only option is to run to the nearby police post.

Now, to leave Mashuuru after your business is a humongous challenge. The two vehicles leave at 4:00 am in the morning. Miss those two and you have to consider another exit strategy through Sultan Hamud.

In fact, on the day I left Mashuuru, I missed the two vehicles but was lucky to get a GK vehicle heading to Thomas Fish Secondary School through another dusty road. A road where you meet giraffes and gazelles on the way. The problem is, the double cabin vehicle was full, so I could not find space inside, but only at the open space at the back and I ate lots of dust.

By the time I got to Sultan Hamud, I was unrecognizable, thanks to dust everywhere on my body except my eyes. I could not care anymore as I boarded a bus to Nairobi at Sultan Hamud. The missus will be happy to note that there was no way I could Have stolen the heart of some 'Zainabu' or 'Kabindu' in that bus. Not with all the dust on my body.

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