The Village Traveller #TBT

Those of you who were born and brought up in the village will agree with me that travelling was a big deal and more especially if you were going into the City(Nairobi). It was a village affair that involved almost if not all your relatives. People consulted widely and plans were laid down meticulously and letters were written to the host. Upon a reply, a date was set and then the running around started.
For the person travelling, he had to make sure that he chose only the best of his clothes, repaired or even borrowed shoes, a blazer or jacket or in some cases a sweater. He would then start behaving like a hero. He was now freer with the girls and would enjoy certain privileges that were a reserve of the elite. He was even allowed to rest, stay out late and was exempted from some chores.
As for the village it was a different affair almost chaotic. Families that had their sons in the city hurriedly wrote letters and verbal messages, prepared and packed foodstuffs and in extreme circumstances live animals were also included.
Back home, the family of the traveller also made its own plans which included securing a seat on the chosen bus. Often visits were made to the nearest town to enquire about the buses, their timings and reliability. Road safety was a big issue to be considered. He was put through a series of crash courses on how to travel, how to behave while in the bus and what to do when he alights and how to safeguard himself until he gets to the host’s house in one piece. He had to memorise landmarks, matatu route numbers and he was instructed not to allow anyone help him move from point A to B. Further his allowances for the journey were separated into so many categories and carefully stashed in order of use. There was his return fare back home which was placed at the bottom of his bag and he was forbidden from using it or letting his host know he had it. Hosts were known to sometimes dupe their visitors into use their fare only for them to be stranded at the end of their visit. There was also his upkeep while in the city and some allowance with which he would buy a few essentials. There were specific monies for specific purchases and all were kept in different places. There was then the road allowance in case he was hungry or the vehicle broke down. This was the only money he was allowed to access as he wished and of course his own small kitty he had been putting aside for this journey.
On the eve of travelling, the traveller would walk through the village taking it all in as if it was going to be his last day. He would be heard mentioning city estate names, and could be seen displaying his travel documents and his fat pockets. He even received some notes bearing the postal address from even the most elusive of the village girls. His language was almost now transformed with the bulk being Sheng, Swahili and English. He also walked with an empty bag which he made sure was borrowed from the farthest corner of the village. On his way home he would collect his peers on the pretext of helping him pack when actually he just wanted to appear more superior than them.
He then proceeded to spend the whole evening in the company of his parents and uncles receiving his last instructions before the family ate, prayed and then went to bed. An uncle or family friend who was well versed with the city and travel matters would be asked to come for him in the morning to ensure he got to his bus safely and on time.
He then went to bed. The night would be short mainly because he was excited and also because he was afraid of waking up late. The other not so obvious reason was a ‘final’ visit from his village flame. She would appear after hours and would also feign sadness and jealousy over the fact that the traveller had a chance to meet a city girl and forget about her. He would deny chances of that ever occurring. She would leave just before cock crow accompanied by his most trusted lieutenant(s).
A shower later and the traveller would be ready. He had on his best clothes and the official hand luggage. The rest were either meant for the boot or the carrier. There would be a gathering to see him off after prayers, farewell messages, verbal messages to deliver and more pieces of advice for the journey ahead. Everybody waved at him, some shouted more verbal messages as he made his way to the bus stop. ‘Hata ukiwa jiji usisahau kijiji’ etc etc.
He then heroically proceeded to board the local transport for his first leg of the journey.
Have you ever had a similar experience?
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Part II of the journey coming right up……

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5 thoughts on “The Village Traveller #TBT

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  1. What a #TBT that reminds me of my first trip to Nairobi in a bus cristened “Magutu Swinger”. Very interesting moment.

    Like

  2. Nice one
    Reminds me of my first long distance bus trip to Mombasa, I couldn’t sleep the night before in anticipation
    Was tingling with excitement

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This has taken me down a loong memory lane…!! Sleep that night was impossible, I remember staying awake all night just fantasizing about the marvels in the city. We had this youthful cock that for it’s own weird reasons decided to crow at 1AM on this day. And since during those days we had no mobile phone and only my dad had a wrist casio watch, I couldn’t tell what time it was. I rushed to wake Dad up not to get late only to be returned to go back to sleep 😦 The time between 1am and 6am, the supposed boarding time turned out to be longer than 24hrs
    I love this article 🙂

    Like

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