Monday, August 25, 2008

Bongo Series: The Shirati Experience

Though Shirati is my home, I have only lived there for less than 25% of my entire life. Regardless, I find comfort in knowing that the very reason I got out is searching for life. Amazingly, I still have this deep sense of belongingness. How else could I consider the place where my late father rests?

That is where I have the fondest childhood memories. This is where the kids in the neighborhood (almost all related somehow) would gather to play games on a bright moonlit night. That is where I got whacking by any adult for breaking societal “rules”. This is where I still have the best memories of my old Sunday school choir singing. This is the place I whooped the entire Sunday school class in memorizing Psalms 23, winning a box of crayons.

Since I partly attended primary school in Shirati, this is where my mom used to wait for me on a school closing day (typically late May and November) to find out what position I held in class (not bragging, but I used to kick some major butts, which means thee number one position was almost guaranteed). This is where as I poor kid I used to go to the local market (Sayote) to help my mom sell whatever – onions, dried sardines, fruits, etc – to make ends meet.

This is where my heart still beats when I approach the town. In a nutshell, I have strong social and emotional ties to Shirati. That is where I still draw some of my life aspirations.

So what does a man do when he lays his eyes on his mom after a long time? Of course he can’t just help but to embrace her, hug her and let the tears of joy run down his cheek. How couldn’t I? This is the lady who has sacrificed everything for me. This is the lady who, when there was nothing else she could do, just turned to prayers. This is the lady who put structure, discipline, love, wisdom and character into my heart and mind.

Well, let me get you off my emotional side.

The best part of my experience in Shirati was meeting on of my brothers. I had not met the guy for roughly 14 years. We just happened to have different schedules and life situations for that entire time. In celebration, something had to go down. One my cousins sold me a goat for some serious barbeque. If felt like there was nothing better than sitting under a well shaded guava tree enjoying organic barbeque roast.

Or by the way, I was told that I had just missed the mangoes’ season. See, we have about four mangoes trees at our compound. Boy, when you hit the right season, you could actually sit under the tree and enjoy your day, if you know what I mean. Papayas don’t go out of season, but I guess they are the fruits folks like me take for granted. So I really didn’t get excited about papayas.

I am trying to ignore the countless chickens that were gone just to entertain me. This is one of the things about my culture: when guest arrives, especially if the guest is somehow regarded as special, they have to get a special treatment. That treatment includes chasing a “jogoo” around just for the guest. It is almost uncouth to reject the meal, regardless of the similar stops you had previously made. What can I say; it was definitely nice to be treated as a king.

Adding to my fun’s list, I went to the open market. The town holds an open market every Monday at Obwere. In the old days, great soccer games would be scheduled on that day. Unfortunately, Obwere lost its allure and great soccer games are played at Sota, a lakeshore town. I was told Sota has improved economically and teams get more gate collection playing there. In the old days, you would see folks biking home with full-length sugarcanes. I think the story goes that to impress a girl in those days all you had to do was to buy her very long uncut sugarcane. Maybe folks got sophisticated that the hook is now prepaid cell phone vouchers.

I was just glad the open market tradition has not died away.

Along with the good times, it was also easy to be heartbroken. That is because there were numerous monetary issues presented for my resolution. The saddest part is that I couldn’t solve everything. I am not rich by any means, but I can lead a decent life. When I saw folks you I attended school with struggling to put decent clothes on their children’s backs, I had to be very humbled. I know I had to study and work hard for what I have, but seriously, who wakes up in the morning resolving to be poor?

Before I left I had an opportunity to visit a piece of land that my father acquired over 50 years ago. As my dad passed on when I was only three years old, I never knew him. Standing on the very property that he acquired long before I was born helped me see what kind of a man he was. And that is more of a visionary. Hopefully, someday my boys would look back and think of me in those terms.

Regardless, Shirati is where my heart is.


peninnah said...

I enjoyed reading your post about Shirati, Metty! Very touching indeed, and made me ponder on my "Shirati".

Wayne said...

a very moving & emotional post - thanks for sharing your heart and soul. As Peninnah noted - we all have a Shirati - so very glad you got to see and experience yours during your trip home.

Jane chi kakseru said...

I can't be more proud of a man you've become. Thanx to this woman in your life who tought you to become a good citizen of this world. Past is gone now work hard to make sure this mom eats anything she wants. My mother tought and encourage me to rise (take action) and shine(do my best). Good mother work hard tireless,giving everything they have to their children. Their love and wisdom is deeply seeded in our lives. One question my mother asked me more than 20 years ago,when I didn't want to get up early to go to shamba,she asked " Jane you've been sleeping since I brought you into this world 18 years ago did you ever have enough of it" my answer was no. Now I know what that simple question meant in my life as I live in the world of earn as you clock in. I saw a big smile on her face when she saw me getting ready for work little before 6am,when she visited me in the usa,we both remember that very day she planted that positive idea into my mind. Sleeping is for dead. Metty stories like yours change lives,keep the good work, by the way you make me cry.

Jaduong Metty said...

I am glad you have your Shirati. I guess we all have our little places in our hearts where we draw inspirations from. Shirati is definitely one those place for me..

Jaduong Wayne...Thanks for visiting again. I know I have been disappointing the faithful like you, but with life on my path, it is hard to write as often as I would like to...

Kaskeru makon mane? I'm sorry I made you cry, but I hope your tears were tears of joy. Hopefully, you will find a reason to call mom quite often, love her even the more, and pass on the valuable lesson mom taught you to your own little ones.

My mom's voice still ring in my head and I am certainly going to pass on the wisdom.

Anonymous said...

Metty,I was your schoolmate @ Shycom. wuon parwa to nyinge Peter Nyagwegwe,janam lwete ngulu. Jolokakoni pake ni Peter mach wuod gadek. best regard to Josi,podolemo koso omiyo jachien thuolo.