Yes folks, and it wasn’t the sizzling gourmet style delicacy you will find at the fabulous Inter-Continental Hotel. In all honesty, it was the regular boiled stuff with minimal onions, a few leaves of dania (cilantro) and a small tea spoon of tomato juice to excite the stew. The anxiously awaited one course meal was complete with my favorite ugali made of the cheaper wanainchi grade flour and a glass of rain water. Water conservation is not just for the rich.
Because it was Christmas, I decided to use my prized utensils. I took out my mabati iron plate and my plastic cup. The plate was special because it was made in China and had this irresistible orange and green floral print on it. It intricately imitated the queen’s china. Today I will be feasting in the presence of majestic flowers. The cup was nothing special; only that I use it to display my affluence when visitors come knocking. The empty half kilogram Blue Band tin is all I need on typical days. I told you I’m environmentally conscious…. so I re-cycle.
Well, the time came to consume my Christmas feast. First, I took off my shirt and loosened my belt. I then closed my door from inside, served my plate and sat down on my three legged stool; ready to reward my stomach and intestines for being patient. I said grace and wished Jesus a happy birthday. My fingers dove into the hot ugali and began the exercise of molding an ugali-spoon. I dipped the ‘spoon’ into my matumbo stew and scooped up what looked like a book or blanket. ‘This was going to be the greatest Christmas ever’, I remember thinking as my ‘spoon’ elevated towards my salivating mouth. The tip of my tongue barely tasted the hot matumbo stew when…. Hodi! Hodi Jirani! Jirani Yupo!!
My first reaction was of course to do a quick mental calculus equation on how I’m going to divide my low grade ugali. I could not pretend I was not home because the matumbo aroma could be smelt about a mile away…. and the flies were as usual fighting each other to come through my one glass window. The evidence of a succulent feast within the walls of my shack was very incriminating. The knocks became louder every five or so seconds. Mwenye nyumba yupo!!
So I put on my shirt and, like Pink Panther, tip-toed in slow motion towards the window by the door. I really had to see the cause of this Christmas day commotion. I had sworn to have the ‘door knocker’ wait for about ten minutes before I acknowledged. I had suffered and gone through great pains to make this feast happen. If someone wanted a share, they too had to suffer. If I peep through the window, the guy on the other side would see my head protruding and would even knock louder. Instead, I chose to peep through the keyhole. What I saw sent a cold chill through my spine.
I tell you folks, on the other side of the keyhole was a shiny belt buckle, proudly inscribed: Utumishi Kwa Wote.
By this time, my knees were giving way and I was no longer sweating. Fellas, Christmas was clearly over.
To cut a long story short, I had to open the door and let the cops have a field day surveying the interior of my shack. I was at pains to explain why I was eating Christmas alone. After terrorizing me in the usual Kenyan way and making sure I had no ‘money safe’ behind a hidden wall, they asked me to reveal where I bought the matumbo. Lying with no reason, I answered back, “Kichwa Tembo Butchery of Fine Meats”. I did not want to reveal the true source of the matumbo…yaani, that I had helped my boss massacre a goat…the tripe was my reward.
In short order, the policemen, in emergency tactics, put on plastic gloves and masks and confiscated my matumbo, together with the floral plate. Bwana! they even took the remaining stuff in the sufuria. Then their leader beckons me aside to tell me that I should feel very happy because the government had saved my life. Apparently, ‘Kichwa Tembo Butchery of Fine Meats’ has been unscrupulously selling donkey matumbo to the unsuspecting public.
So there you have it; the heading of this story is not entirely true either. I almost had matumbo for Christmas.