WHOEVER coined the twoword message ‘times change’ was a super genius. This is as unchallengeable as the fact that, whereas the blackness of the people of South Sudan is as real as the whiteness of snow, the whiteness of people across the Mediterranean sea is debatable, as some seem distantly yellowish.
I am as sure as today is the seventh day of the week – a talkative person’s way of describing a Sunday that the genius long returned to dust from whence he came and where he truly belongs.
I am furthermore as sure as you are somewhat bored by what you are reading right now, that, a descendant of his is holed up somewhere. He may be retrieved from there, for me to give him a nice present as a befitting reward on behalf of his patriarch, for that piece of wisdom.
I would give him a calabash of ‘lubisi’, a traditional wine which, though not TBScertified, is tolerated as a harmless beverage.
It’s unlike ‘viroba’, which the government banned because it was demoting many young people from human beings to zombies, and from worshippers of God to followers of the devil.
For the record, ‘Lubisi’ is derived from bananas, technically the cultural heartbeat of the sons, daughters, and grandchildren of Kagera Region. Besides being a major ingredient of brewing the wine, as well as of distilling a potential killer called ‘enkonyagi’, boiled bananas are also food and bunches of bananas are part of bride price.
They are also imposed as fines for men whose eyes have been found guilty of feasting on the wives of other people without the latter’s approval.
Adults and children alike are endeared to yellow-coloured sweet bananas, the children of the green bananas. Times indeed change. The chief hobby of an exold man (‘ex’ because he has been resting in peace since 2001) was to speak the truth, and hated lies as much as Mwalimu Nyerere urged Tanzanians to fear political power mongers on the same level as leprosy. Mzee Ukweli Mtupu told me that Upanga, a residential district near Dar’s central business district, derived the name from the fact that it was originally a thick jungle.
Traversing it entailed being armed which a panga, with which to teach a hyena an excellent lesson, in the event of the handsome-less animal raising queries over territorial rights. In the 60s, the area in front of what was then Tanganyika Standard Newspapers Limited along the current Maktaba Street, was wet and hosted coconut trees. If I had been a reporter there then, I would have exploited my boyhood skills as a petty mango thief, to conquer thirst creatively.
I would regularly climb the trees and harvest a few fruits to cheer my blessed throat with. Two decades ago, I initially rejected a friend’s proposal to buy a piece of land in Jirani na Gereza, a Dar es Salaam suburb that hosts a prison. I suspected that over 80 per cent of my dreams would be focused on becoming a full-board, all-expenses-paid guest there someday.
I subsequently shifted there, when the suburb became a lively township, and I am one of its most prominent respectable citizens, as patron of Jirani na Gereza Bombers Football Club. Since its formation ten years ago, the team has never won a single match, probably due to rivals-engineered ‘juju’.
Mr Forward Kijogoo is part of a small network of senior citizens who patronise Tokomeza Kiu Bar, where, besides doing our blessed throats justice, we exchange ideas on how TZ can be transformed into an African model nation.
At a personal level, my closeness to Forward is derived from his tips on how to become a born-again Christian, though he dodges my queries on why he hasn’t become one himself. Recently, he mobilised me and four other wazee to visit Maisha Matamu, a new recreational facility a mile or so from the prison.
What thrilled me most was the remake by Enzi Zile Jazz Band, of Mbaraka Mwinshe’s song in which he praised a girl called Hellena, whose very sighting – so he claimed – froze his hunger and sleep! As a Form One student in 1969, I pretended to become a boyfriend of a girl called Hellena, but the project collapsed because she was not keen to pretend to be my girlfriend.
Around midnight, the retreat was surrounded by security personnel who zeroed in on our table and arrested us. Mr Kijogoo was shot dead shortly afterwards, as we were being shepherded into a police van. It subsequently transpired that, he was the architect of an escape plan for a group of gangsters remanded at the prison, which had leaked.
A week after Kijogoo’s death, I dreamt that I was jailed at the prison, after being convicted of planning the hijacking of a banana-loaded lorry at the Buguruni market !