I AM reliably informed, but apologies for forgetting the name of the fairly intelligent social animal who (or is it that ?) was kind enough to render me the service free of charge, that, the Birth Day (BD), is one of the most memorable in a person’s life.
Since his memory is as malnourished as mine, however, he forgot to explain that the initial BD is somewhat meaningless. It’s because the person to whom it relates, is as in total darkness over the goings-on around him as a power generator- less citizen of a certain country becomes when Mjomba Tanesco suspends his friendship for some precious hours.
When the alarmingly tiny creature, weighing a number of ounces that are embarrassingly too few to mention, becomes the latest member of the world community , people troop into his parent’s home.
They become as excited as New Year’s Day celebrants, but some of them are ill-willed, making their excitement as fake as some goods from a certain country. I am diplomatic enough not to mention its name.
I could be arrested and jailed for a number of years almost as equal to the number of years I have owned since I was born, for spreading dangerous rumours that could trigger the Third World War. Those people include much earlier babies who become children of their parents as well as of God.
They remain children even after they become as toothless as newly born babies. Plus, the colour of their hair resembles Olympic silver medals, and their voices become as off-tune as that of an otherwise smooth-voiced MC testing a malfunctioning microphone.
Day One, and a few successive ones, are technically useless. It is only much later when a baby grows slightly old enough for his ears to cease to become useless. It’s more so for a lucky child whose ears resemble a rabbit’s, and start hearing stories about how he behaved when he was a tinier citizen of the world.
For a triple combination of protocol, diplomatic, and cultural reasons, I won’t disclose the name of a friend I am hereby temporarily ‘baptising as Sumni Shilingi (Double S). He once disclosed to me, a hint dropped by an uncle of his who was reportedly a high-ranking rumour manufacturer.
He claimed that, as a baby, Shilingi wailed as piercingly as the siren of a presidential sweep car, whenever he saw someone holding a traditional brew calabash. Shilingi was disturbed because the rumour had been widely circulated, creating, not a king-size, but emperor-size impression that he was an extraordinary alcohol drinking fanatic.
In reality, though, he – Sumni Shilingi, Double S, whichever you fancy – is a modest beer drinker, his current favourite thirst-murdering brand being ‘mwendo kasi’. I am as ignorant over why it was so named, as I would be tortured to death if you asked me what the answer to 740 times 22 was, by mental calculation.
I could actually get the answer wrong even if I were to use a calculator. I am arithmetic-starved critically enough to be jailed for at least five years ! For the record, I was the worst Form Four mathematics exam performer in 1971.
On second thoughts, it is a record of sorts which I should be proud of, rather than embarrassed about, as I’m almost sure you would ! But back to the beer chat, lest I drift into discussing a drink that I know little about, except that, colour-wise, it resembles brand new nails, and makes excessive drinkers behave like evil spirits as opposed to the Holy Spirit.
I attended Mr Shilingi’s birthday party the other day. In his remarks, he chipped in the never-miss fact that he is an elder brother of Tanzania.
Elaborating, he said he was born a few years earlier than Tanzania’s elder brother Tanganyika, which was territorially hundreds of years old, but fewer than his in the independent nation context. Shortly afterwards, he alternately touched his throat and flung his hands towards Ken, a white Kaunda suitclad young man who was part of the catering staff.
Ken rushed to the chief guest with a cold ‘mwendo kasi’ bottle, which SS drained at terrific speed, leaving the rest of us, including his wife, astonished ! Most people cheered and ‘Happy Birthday Shilingi’ chants rent the air, as they assumed that, their host had sought to amuse them.
It subsequently transpired that, he had experienced extremely sharp stomach pains, and some inner voice had advised him to drink a reasonable quantity of the nearest available liquid as first aid. Somewhat miraculously, he recovered fully after a few minutes, prompting cancellation of a proposed fast trip to hospital.