Only in Kenya

Friday, July 21, 2006

I Miss Nguata Francis

Just in case you weren’t born ‘back in the days’, he’s the guy who used to do the Weather Forecast on VoK and later KBC. In his days, the weather never got as cold and erratic as it does today. If you missed his weather report, all you had to do was take a look outside your window in the morning and know what to wear. You could also afford to take a shower at 6 in the morning and your body would be just fine.

But these are the days of the beautiful Peninah Karibe; the days days of ‘hata mukisema, siogi!’ The cold!

Last night, Peninah talked about the clouds giving way to sunshine today. This morning, the sun had obediently gathered enough psyche to peep through the clouds. That’s why many Kenyans like me left home in a T-shirt.

Halfway through the day, it’s raining cats, dogs, pigs, chicken… And I can almost guarantee you it will be sunny by 4pm. If this goes on, the sun might just decide to set at 3pm one of these fine days. And unless you’re reading this from Reykjavik, this isn’t normal.

Peninah, talk to your guys at the met dept and see if they can be a bit more serious with their forecasts.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Tea Shall Set You Free

Driving from Mombasa to Nairobi the other day, I couldn't help but enjoy the nice stretch of tarmac from Bachuma Gate to Sultan Hamud. The car was in great condition and so was the road. The Japs put a 180kph mark on my speedometer and I decided to test if they didn't mean 200kph.

The baobab trees lining the highway all of a sudden started moving past me faster than before, and the 26-wheeler trailers seemed more like pick ups when I overtook. Then, rising from the black tarmac was a hand, into which grew a body with a luminous green windbreaker, topped by a cap bearing an 'utumishi kwa wote' badge. That hand was sticking out so high it almost touched mabuyus dangling across the road.

I reluctantly hit the brakes and brought the car to a screeching 0kph, rolled down the window to see the body wore very mean face. This cop had either inhaled tons of carbon dioxide or had lost a lot of money betting on France.

COP: Kijana, habari yako?
MWA: Mzuri officer. Labda yako.
COP: Usijali. Leta driver's license.

I removed it from the official Kenyan DL storage point: the driver's sun visor pocket.

COP: Unajua una makosa gani?
MWA: Hapana.
COP: Tuko na speed limit ya 100 on this highway, and you were going at 140.
MWA: (Scratching my head) Sio 160?

I don't think he heard me.

COP: Sasa, utalipa cash bail ya 3,000, halafu kesho ukuje kortini Voi. I am charging you with over speeding.
MWA: Officer, naenda Nairobi kazi. Siwezi kuja Voi kesho.

He then walked round the car - don't know why - and came back to my window.

COP: Basi nunua soda nikuachilie.
MWA: Utakunywa soda na baridi hii?

Pregnant pause.

COP: Sawa, leta chai.

I promptly reached for the back seat and pulled out a pack of Ketepa I was hoping to consume the following morning, and handed it to him. He looked at the pack of tealeaves like it was the first time he'd seen tea not on a farm or cup. He then shifted his gaze to me, back to the pack of tealeaves, gave me back my DL, put his hand down (yes, it'd been raised all this time) and flagged me off.

I left the cop in a cloud of dust as I continued testing my speedometer.

Acting dumb and a pack of tea leaves will get you past any cop.