No feast for the absent

Syokimau is two Luo songs away from CBD on a Saturday, 35 minutes.

A Luo song goes for fifteen minutes, any other song goes for three minutes, beyond that is too expensive for the producer, the artist, maybe even the radio stations. But you see that part of expensive is where Luos saw no problem, a song can go for twenty minutes for all we care. The pace had been set way back in history in Congo Brazzaville, we are only living by the ancestors’ books.

The men from the lake and short things, business and family, two worlds apart. Do not be surprised if you find that song short and sweet unpopular amongst my kinsmen. How do you dance to that? Sounds to me like a celebration of dereliction. No hard feelings Sauti Sol fans, it can be short and sweet yes, but you will agree with me that long is sweeter. I am no sweetometer, but couple of times my ears do land on conversations where ladies say they like long, dark and something like that kind of men. If that is the science then I am not standing on its way.

My love for good music, probably is for all the reasons that you don’t. I love it because I only need to turn up the volume of the speakers in the living room then dash to my bedroom to have that sensitive phone conversation meant only for the ear on the other end of the line.

“Hey Jaber, dry spell nayo.”

A small laughter is heard on the other end, a sweet one, like a tickled orangutan. Then she breathes on my ears, the most sensitive thing you can do in a phone conservation.

“mmmh…you sure?”

“Saana Si I see you leo? Niko mbayaa…”

Music again will come to my rescue when I’m having a me time and someone can’t just stop calling. So you jump on YouTube, type Beautiful piano music, click on the first on the list and play it loud on the speakers as you pick the call

“Hey, sorry I’m having my piano lessons at the moment, can I call you later please?”

The smart ones will say “ Okay later then.”

Then there are those who will want to chip in what they wanted to say “Nilikuwa nasemaa..”


“Which part of me having my piano lessons did you not get? What emergency is it? Has your car given birth!!?”

“I’m sorry man”


But the most beautiful part of music in me is that Wednesday when you say sorry to your body. Just when everyone is moving out of town, I’ll be planning my way there, I have a date with Emma Jalamo at Samba Marina. It is a therapy I’m accustomed to, at least once a month, every Luo needs the therapeutic touch of Bishop as we call him. Samba Marina is the place.

I call my friend Oloo, he is my ohangla buddy. I’m a loner, but those are habits that die on an ohangla night. He tells me to pick him from South B.

“Sawa, I’ll be there by 9.30 then.”

“You are driving?”

“No way bwana, Uber.” The nights can be messy at times. It has been before. Don’t Drink, fornicate and drive, NTSA once said.

“Ibiro gi madam?” (you are coming with madam?)

“I’m single.”

He breaks into a laughter.

“It is what it is bro.”

“Let me call that my lady from Ngara akuje.” He says. “Budho ber gi wendo.” (company muhimu).

My Biltmore Winston hat is the last thing I grab before leaving the house for the night.

Fast forward 10 pm, we have arrived at Samba, we have also managed to pick Naaz, Oloo’s lady from Ngara. On the corridors that lead to the first floor where the club is, you’ll catch a glimpse of the night owls winking at you. But I’m not buying tonight, I just want to have a good time. If anything, the scarcity of a dance partner is the last thing you can expect in an Ohangla night, where Luo men camp, beautiful women take residence. And just like we expected, the house is pregnant with action. Welo!

Angela helps us get a strategic table where we can watch the action on stage and also get a 180 degrees surveillance of the floor. Angela is the waitress, a beauty she is. To find her here serving drinks, you would think KQ stopped hiring. In a place like this, you drink, watch and dance. If the pocket allows you, you can tip the artist then he chogos (praises) you a little. The more you give the better you become; from a shop attendant he will call you an engineer, then he will sing something like you went to mbalariany (school) at Oxford University and studied Mechanical engineering, meanwhile you will be dancing with him on the stage so that the revelers can see the ‘engineer’ you are. You dance as you hold your little upcoming tummy to prove that there are some investments there too. Your praises can stop there if you choose to, but if the pockets are still outspoken, you can chuck out a few more for Opija so that he can mention your friends like Osano, Yes, and Raila Odinga. In this side of life, schools and friends at high places can be bought, at least for a night. After that you can dance back to your table smiling, a few people sending glances your way, your table immediately becomes an area of interest. There are other people who will be tipping the artist the whole night but he will be keen not to mention all of them as friends of Raila, lest people begin to ask how many friends Raila is having in the club tonight.

We order some Jameson Blenders Dog. Yes, it’s about time we surprised the liver, coffee has danced enough on its neighbor’s lawn. For some reason it has been my favorite for the last six years, add to the fact that it was my first liquor when I joined this league or maybe because the founder James Johnson thought it was too smooth that he would drink it even without his name on it. If he thought so 200 years ago, how about I push the spirit further? And as is the norm, when it comes to the table, it has to be blessed, and who does it better than Oloo?

“Hey Jemison, you know I said No to alcohol but you just don’t listen,” he begins talking to the bottle, holding it by the shoulders, and running his index and middle finger on the engravings on the bottle heels as if admiring.

 I’ll be eating a lot of things today, walking (gazing at Naaz)and still ones, but can I start with you? Your history is well known Jameson...” 

“Most of them tragic.” I throw in a sentence. Laughter ensues. He rolls the bottle in his palm, slapping the shoulders.

“Two priests, more blessings.” Naaz joins.

“You have broken great men before us Jameson, we know you.” Oloo continues.

“Men have fallen asleep on the roadsides, beaten otaro with your name including my uncle Jacob, we know this, but still we are here, you see?” (Last time it was his uncle Robert, and Philip before that, it must be a family of talented uncles.) 

“Jameson! Jameson! Don’t embarrass me. Make me happy. I’m not like my uncle, you will not do me like that I swear. Now I’m going to open you. I’m going to spank you twice at the bottom.”

That attracts some laughter from the next table, they seem to be amused by Oloo’s theatrics.

Pame!” (spank it!) they shout amidst laughter.

 Pap! Pap! He slaps the bottle twice, before he continues.

“I know you are not my friend Jameson, you are my enemy of progress! But even the bible says love your enemy. I love you Jameson. Tonight, we will drink responsibly, we will not spill you, not even a dot. The ancestors can eat air today for heaven’s sake.”

This is no feast for the absent.

Bottle opens.

Whisky flows.

As we whisk the night away in laughter and dances, it does not register in our minds that it would probably be the last this year. The Chinese spell was cooking in Wuhan.

The next time I party, there could be a new constitution in Kenya or even a new US president, or maybe I will have earned a few more titles for myself for a comeback praise. Who knows? Time will tell.

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  1. So glued I was that I didn't realise it ending...please continue from where you passed...