in search for green pastures in Mombasa, A Kenyan Coastal City.
| CHAPTER I
Harsh calls from black Indian jungle crows, sudden change of the weather to warm humid temperatures, closed packed Swahili houses and women vending snacks for breakfast along roads and on their verandas. They were sceneries I got piping through the third class train wagon window, I had never been to Mombasa, and it was my first time. Heat stress, it was annoyingly hot, I was used to the cold Mount Kenya weather. Here I was totally the opposite of where I hail from.
Weeks before I left home, my family coaxed me to visit distant relatives who had been to Mombasa; to debrief me about the coastal city. The story was the same, many have fallen to the pleasures of the city and many have made it through their hard work, strict and strong religious values. It is a land of opportunities with regard to different economic platforms and the hinterland the docks serve, job opportunities are bound to be.
Day in day out, tourists, expatriates and domestic immigrants flock in, either to have fun, to offer skilled or non-skilled labor and some just come to start a life; in search for future better days. I thought of joining the tourism industry but with what I had been told, I doesnât end well. Tourism in Mombasa is lucrative but any good has some bad. Being unskilled I was ready to do almost anything to make it big in life. Good jobs avenues were tight for the skill less, that was the word on the air waves unless you were wired.
Sandy beaches, beautiful and breathe taking couchÃ© le soleil, mouthwatering Swahili cuisine and not to say the splendid cultural blends that give gorgeous coastal afro-Semitic phenotype, âreading them and seeing themâ to me this was an achievement. High hopes, high expectation and a better tomorrow are what clouded my mind. I was hoping for the best, hoping to dine with kings and but no fail safe, it was a long shot. Speaking out aloud I only had high school certificateon my resume.
As the train meandered along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway it approached the Kibarani fly over and all I could see is smoke from huge garbage piles up in flames and an awful, stale, rotten and stinky smell. I could guess that was the major dump site in Mombasa. The dump site ruins the beautiful view of Tudor creek, âsuch a wasteâ. As the train moved past the huge garbage piles, I saw street families walking up and down in the dump site as more city council trucks kept offloading garbage in to the yard.
The trainâs hoot teleported I back from my imaginary world. As I exited the wagon my uncle Wa Gatimu was waiting. His signature hair cut still was growing strong, he loved having his head bald shaved and he kept a mustache. He still was in job gear, it was like he was on night shift. His high cut black leather shoes, trousers tacked in the boots and a leather coat in his arm. He worked as security enforcer.
Uncle had lost some weight, his palm had toughened up scars that I felt as we were shaking hands and he even started smoking â¦.
This was the opposite of how the things were back in the county. Uncle was pampered, he never used work much. My grandparents were blessed farmers with a family four sons and one daughter, there was enough for everyone and to spare. Uncle Wa Gatimu was grandparentsâ favorite because he and my grandmother both almost died at birth because of birth related complications. Until one bad day changed everything for him, he fled to Mombasa with nothing and not knowing anyone in the city. There we were, I being with someone I spent my early childhood watching him ruin his life. Here I was supposed to trust him to guide me on building a good future. An uncle that I didnât spend time with, more of a blood stranger. Summing up all that, tougher times were to come.
The rural serenity was gone, the slum urban congestion and scarcity of amenities was the least of the worries. The hand to mouth life was the trend, all earned was spent.