A Classic By Wahome Mutahi (Whispers)RIP
I had a rather unusual Jamhuri Day yesterday. It is all on account of this
technology that has given us, among other things, this thing called a mobile
phone. Until yesterday, I did not have an idea that those things exist in
the other world where people go when they become past tense. I discovered
yesterday when I was sitting in my house and watching the man who was born
and brought up in Sacho and who will receive a golden handshake in a few
years, address his people as he always does on national days.
My telephone which, through the will of God and of a mortal called Kibor,
has been working after being past tense for quite a while rang and a very
un-familiar voice came through. It said, ‘Is that the Son of the Soil from
the Slopes of Mount Kenya, the husband of Thatcher, the son of Appep and the
father of Whispers Junior and the Investment?’ I said I was. The same male
voice continued, ‘We have not met but I have been dying to die again to talk
to you. I would have called you earlier but I got my satellite phone only
yesterday. You might not believe it but we also have telephone waiting lists
here. My name is Dedan.’

‘Dedan?’ I asked. ‘But I know so may Dedans that I don’t think I can recall
you unless you give me your other names. Could you be Dedan Otieno?’ ‘No, I
am not,’ replied the man. ‘I used to be Dedan Kimathi wa Waciuri but up here
I am simply Dedan. You keep only your Christian name here when you grow
wings.’ I paused thinking that it was one of those Kenyan jokes like a man
milking a whole elephant. Dedan realised that I was lost and added, ‘I was
born and brought up on the Slopes of Mount Kenya just like you quite some
years back. One thing led to another and I found myself in the forest and
that is how I became a field marshal.’ ‘Cut it out!’ I told the man. ‘I have
more important things to do such as watch the man who was born and brought
up in Sacho address the nation on Jamhuri Day.’ ‘That is exactly why I am
calling you. To give you my best Jamhuri Day wishes and find out bout other
things down there. You know we don’t receive much news up here.’

‘Up here? What do you mean?’ I asked. ‘Where people go when they become past
tense,’ he replied. I told the caller to stop joking and I was about to hang
up when he said, ‘Son of the Soil, I am not joking, this is Field Marshall
Kimathi Son of Waciuri, born and brought up in Karunaini on the Slopes of
Mount Kenya. If you doubt that I am calling from the other world, talk to JM
Kariuki. He is here also waiting to talk to you. If you have forgotten him,
he used to be an MP and then one-day, his body was found in Ngong Forest.
Hyenas did not find him appetising. Or would you rather talk to Dr Robert
Ouko? You know his voice better.’ There was a moment’s silence and then
another voice came and said ‘Hello, Jaduong!

This is Bob Ouko. Ithi Maber Wuod Soil? Sibour! I was truly hearing the
voice of Robert Ouko. I replied feebly ‘Things are okay here and we have
been hearing much about you. You simply cannot keep out of the news here.’

‘News?’ asked Ouko charmingly. ‘I thought that when they found me at Got
Alila and buried me I became history. Why should I be in the news and there
is no molasses factory in this place where I settled? Here I have no other
business except to polish my halo and my wings. I miss Kisumo and the fis

‘Mr Minister,’ I said, ‘You have been in the news ever since you shot
yourself in the head, broke your own legs and then set yourself on fire at
Got Alila. We heard that is how you ended up in the other world.’

‘What!’ exclaimed Ouko. This was not the charming Ouko I knew but another
one. A very angry one. ‘Shot myself, broke my legs and then set myself on
fire? You must be kidding. Is this some kind of joke you want to play on me,
Woud Soil. I know you like jokes but this is too much!’

I told the man that I was not joking and that if I was to ever joke with
him, it would not be about his own death. ‘Son of the Soil,’ said Ouko,
coming back to his old self. ‘You know very well that I had never gone to
Mathare mental hospital in my life. I was just a simple Minister who kept
chicken and drank porridge made by Mama Selina. By the way, how is she?’

‘Past tense,’ I replied. ‘And my good friend Oyugi?’ he asked. ‘Past tense’
I said.

‘What of my police boss Philip Kilonzo, my good driver and body guard?’ he
asked in quick succession. ‘Past tense,’ I replied, ‘I thought you would
know since they joined you in the other world.

He responded, ‘Son of the Soil, this place where we are is not the size of
the slopes. It is huge. Perhaps those others are living kilometres and
kilometres from here and since I don’t have a phone yet, I could not have
called them.’

‘But at least you should have known that your buddy Hezekiah Oyugi was there
or perhaps you have not forgiven him for what he is said to have to done to
you,’ I told the former Minister. Ouko sounded surprised as he told me,
‘Forgive him? For what? The man never did me anything wrong in his life. He
was like a son to me.’

‘Well,’ I replied, ‘There is a story doing rounds here on earth that when
you were with us, you liked chasing skirts. In the course of doing so, you
chased a skirt that Oyugi was also chasing. He was not amused and he shot
you dead and then dumped you in Got Alila.’ Ouko laughed and then said,
‘Now, where did that one come from?’ I told him about a man called Andrew
Morton who had written a book about the man from Sacho and claimed that if
Bob was not given to chasing skirts, he would still have been alive.

‘Morton,’ said Ouko, ‘Never heard of him but next time you meet him, tell
him that when I was alive, I liked reading fiction but if he is the kind of
fiction writer who now people read, I don’t think I would like to return to
earth and read. Tell him that he has an inverted sense of humour. Anyway, I
was not meant to be talking to you. This is Kimathi’s telephone and he is
the one who wanted to talk to you.’

‘Just a minute, daktari. I have a question for you before you hand over the
phone to Kimathi,’ I said. ‘Would you like to tell me who killed you? Please
tell me as this will help kill those stories about you and skirts.’

Ouko laughed and then said, ‘Son of the Soil, why do you wish to follow me
to the grave? I have a feeling that if I told the truth and you told it, you
might end up here. Dead men tell no tales, you know. Oyugi should know that
if he is in this other world. We don’t want you here so I would rather not
tell you who translated me into past tense.’ Before I could protest, he had
handed over to Field Marshal Kimathi son of Waciuri.

‘Son of the Soil,’ said son of Waciuri, ‘I decided to call you the first
moment I got a phone and I think that I am lucky that I should talk to you
on Jamhuri Day. You told me that you are watching television.

Can you see my wife Mukami in the picture? I am sure she must be among the
other freedom fighters sitting on the high table.’

‘No, Son of Waciuri,’ I replied. ‘I am sorry she is not there. As a matter
of fact, when I met her, she was on her way to Njabiini. She was short of
fare and I gave her the balance.’

Kimathi went quiet for a while and said, ‘you mean my wife and other freedom
fighters were never made anything big when independence came? Are you
telling me that Bildad Kaggia is not the army commander in Kenya, that
Achieng Oneko is not the retired Attorney General, that Paul Ngei is not..
you are not…’

Kimathi was so angry that he could not continue for a while until I asked
him, ‘I thought you knew all those things about freedom fighters not being
given jobs to roast meat in State House? I thought Jomo son of Ngengi told
you all about it when he became past tense.’

Kimathi paused and then said, ‘I have been trying to ask him what happened
to the freedom fighters after independence but as usual, the Son of Wambui
and Ngengi has been taking me around in circles. I thought perhaps it was
because we really never met a great deal when we were down there. You see,
when he was in Britain, I was studying the map of the Aberdares and Mount
Kenya. When he was cooling off his heels in Kapenguria, I was being chewed
by the cold weather in the forest. But now I have a feeling he has been
hiding something from me, who is the big man down there? I keep forgetting
his name.’

‘Daniel arap Moi,’ I said ‘a very good friend of Jomo and that is why he
left him the seat,’ I replied.

‘Daniel…arap….Moi.. the name does not ring a bell but it is all the same
because I left that place long ago. By the way, I only met that young man
called Tom Mboya for the first time when he came here in 19…I forget the

‘Talking about Mboya, tell me, how come there are quite a number of other
people who have joined me here and they have all complained of being brought
here before their time?’

‘Like who?’ I asked. Kimathi replied instantly ‘Gama Pinto, JM Kariuki,
Kungu Karumba, Robert Ouko and quite a number of people from Molo, Likoni,
Laikipia, Enoosupikia and Migori.’

‘I really don’t know,’ I replied. ‘I cannot comment on how they became past
tense.’ Kimathi sighed and then said, ‘I think you know the answer but I
have a feeling that you don’t want to join those who have come here in
peculiar circumstances.

‘Dead men tell no tales, you know. Have a very nice independence day and
should you see Mukami, tell her to be strong. My best wishes to Kaggia as

I replaced the phone but it rang again immediately. ‘This is Jaramogi son of
Odinga speaking,’ said the voice. It was indeed the voice of Adonija
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, I could not find any words and the speaker
continued, ‘Son of the Soil, sorry for disturbing you. I have been trying to
get that son of mine Raila on the phone for the last two hours but I can’t
get him. Bob Ouko has just told me that you have spoken to him and I thought
you might know where I can get my son Amolo.’

‘Jaduong,’ I said, ‘Simba Jaramogi. Your son is sitting with the man from
Sacho at the Jamhuri celebrations. As you are talking now, they are smiling
at each other as if they are married from the same home.’

Jaramogi responded, ‘Did my son Amolo Tinga join the party of the cockerel
or what?’

‘Something like that,’ I replied. I heard Jaramogi stifle a scream and then
the line went dead. With all that having happened yesterday, now I know that
dead men tell tales.

A collection of Pictures that “caught” our eye. From the Editors.
SIMBA WA NAIROBI 773644_10151339694036738_1693411048_o

What do you think Happened Next?

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Unbelievable! Japan Tsunami wrought havoc & broought about images we will never forget. Our continuous prayers go out to Japan

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