September 28, 2020

The day we ate chips and ketchup

My family here at Kogo Ya Paka is a sizeable one. My 5 fathers (father and his brothers) have more than 3 wives and at least 14 children each. Among my 5 fathers’ 22 married sons it is only me who has one wife because of my ugly looks. The rest are very tall and handsome and have 2 wives each. I’m also the laziest with 3 kids while all the rest have at least 7 each. My 6 divorced sisters and their children also live with us as well as my grandfather and grandma and 8 of their unmarried children (uncles and aunts) who are younger than any of us grandchildren.


When therefore my uncle who works in Germany came visiting and wanted to throw us a party I suggested 4 goats (12k) plus one bale of unga (15OO/=) and a packet of salt but he insisted on potato chips and ketchup if we couldn’t do his first option which was something that goes like kattoffel salad (potatoes pounded with eggs and mayonnaise and eaten with minced meat balls, tomato and lettuce salad).


I therefore got into the 4am bus and arrived in Malindi town at 7am, quickly bought three 100kg sacks of potatoes, a 20lt jerrican of salad oil, 10 liters of tomato ketchup and loaded the luggage onto the carrier of the 8am bus. On my way back I bought two 9″x9″ bricks of salt at Gongoni and by 11am I was back in my village; where more than 5 knives had already been sharpened for the peeling job.


Regardless of the size, every potato was split into 4 pieces and by the time the women had filled one 50kg basket and started frying using a big sufuria it was 3pm. Grandfather had to order a small “pot of ugali prepared for him” with the ketchup as sauce so that he could take his medicine. By now the children lay under the shade of a big tree in the middle of the compound; hungry and unable to continue playing and singing, “hundalya vilazhi” anymore while I was felling the second cashewnut tree to provide more firewood!


Then it happened. Grandfather rose from his stool, walked to the cooking hut and angrily turned the big pot upside down off the fire as the women watched in disbelief.

“Ni wari wani uno usoiva ukariwa tha adzukulu angu mahemberere!”

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