True Stories from Iten
On the road, passing through Embu, two of my relatives, both in their late sixties, are talking animatedly. One, a lady, points out at an obscure building.
“I was here in 1969. That was our college where we were training to be agricultural officers.”
T, the male relative, whose face is round and pudgy, pales.
“P, you were here in Embu in 1969! When Tom Mboya was killed! Were you not scared?”
“Yes, I saw it on television. That year was the first time I watched television actually. All the Luos in my class walked out of the dining hall and sat outside on the grass, wailing loudly and constantly. It chilled. We were not taught anything that day. I went to my dormitory, but those frightening sounds! I couldn’t sleep”
T turns reflective and looks outside the window.
“You are brave P. Puohi! Those were not the times to be far from home.”
He leans his head against the window, staring keenly at something only he can identify.
“You know P, that year in October, I was in Kisumu, working as a teacher. You remember those shootings! I tell you I ran like a mad dog, on and on and on. When I finally stopped to rest, I vomited blood. From that time I decided I would never live elsewhere apart from Keiyo. Let everyone stay in their own land. Let everyone carry their own kesendet (millet bag).”
The soft piano sounds of Daima Mimi Mkenya intrude. Somehow, as random as the universe is, Eric Wainaina is singing through the car radio.