“uvivu ni adui mkubwa wa ujenzi wa taifa kwani nicho kiini hasa kisababishacho njaa, ewe ndugu yangu wee,amka kumekucha, kamata jembe na panga, twende shamba.Hata wewe mwanangu amka kumekucha, kwani hizi ndizo saa, za kwenda shule. Hata wewe Karani amka kumekucha kwani hizi ndizo saa za kwenda kazi….”
This is a song that I grew up hearing each morning from the then, the popular radio station which was the one and only KBC radio. Each morning, whenever I was getting ready for school then I could hear, “ata we mwanangu, amka kumekucha, kwani hizi ndizo saa, za kwenda shule.” And I could feel like the singer was singing directly to me.
Truth be told, who loves early mornings? By example, I don’t. No student does, and the adults are woken up by necessity not by will.
So today I woke up the song singing in my mind and I tried to push it away as I turned grabbing my duvet trying to cover my head but my neighbor chose to play it for me. Loudly via his new sub-woofer. Soon, my bed became unbearable and I had to wake up, look for something to do rather than gorge my idle mind in fairly-land fantasizing about life, about the car I will buy, husband I’d marry and family we’d have together.
I had been planning on starting this small business (don’t ask me which one) so I chose to go to town, make some observations here and there, try to perfect my plan on how to do the business.
Its around eleven or so when I get to town and I don’t know why I head straight to this street, where people are busy working off their asses to squeeze out a living and I notice, everyone is into small business. You know what I mean by small. A little business that doesn’t require much capital to start or maintain.
And my first encounter is with this tailor.
Man, I admire the way he does his work with such an enviable skill. I stand there and watch him, while trying to imagine and rate myself on a scale of ten. I will sure get a two, which will be a good trial on my case. But man, he sews with this perfection, like he knows the future of his material. With this speed, like he is some kind of electric train making its way through a subway. And for that, I go to him and try to shake his hand because I just respected the work of his hands. And the proud tailor looks up to my face and says with confidence,
“nikusaidiaje mtoto wangu?”
You don’t know how much I want to tell him, “man I love the way you work” but think, the African way that won’t sound so great despite the fact that I have no ill motive by trying to give credit to someone doing his work well. Given that, I choose to frame a silly lie,
“mmmh, nilikua ninataka nikuletee kitenge halafu unishoneshee dress. Utanishonea na how much?” I tried to inquire, though it was all a lie.
“okey, si ulete kitambaa kwanza nione ndio nikutengenezee bei mzuri mtoto wangu?” he responds.
“ haya basi, nitakuja hapa kesho na promise utanitengenezea bei vipoa fundi,” I reply trying to flirt my way with him.
“sawa toto, mrembo kama wewe atatengenezewa bei poa kabisa!” I notice his lakeside accent and note, really these people can really do it when it comes to handy work. They know how to navigate their way around art, just to recall what a friend told me yesterday about her new painter from the lakeside region, excellent work.
Next, I notice these many mamas selling fruits.
One notices me and tries to coax me into buying a banana. Does she know am not a banana fan? So I smile and move on.
Suddenly, someone spreads word that city council officers are on their way and you know what happens? Well that, everyone who has been to the market knows what traders do when they get word that “kanjos wamefika hapo kwa corner.” So I don’t want to explain on that cause I know my readers already know what happens and if you do not know, go find out and tell me as a comment.
I walk all day and admire the hard work of Kenyans and at the end of the day, I think I have a rough idea on how to do business my way and swear to explore more into small scale business and learn about the lives of Kenyans who live their lives making a living doing small business. Is the jobseeker back again? Well yes, long time no see jobseeker, but this time, look at life from a different perspective. Business perspective and try to create some employment.
Remember the song “uvivu ndio adui wa kujenga taifa” na taifa si Kenya bali taifa ni wewe binafsi ndugu yangu. (I don’t know where that Swahili came from) but I now know what a day to a hard working mjenzi wa taifa is like.