The journey was long but awesome.

JUNE, 18TH 2009.

0620 hrs, I officially stepped on the ‘raha’ infested town soil. The place was Mwembe Tayari and really hoped to see lots of ready mangoes! BARAism is real! The normal morning rush got me wondering how these many people never confused their destinations. I was the confused one. I would hear them say ‘watoka bara hawa, waone walivyozubaa.’ I saw a food kiosk a few meters away and thought it would be great if I grabbed some breakfast. I checked in and was served tea and mahamri. I enjoyed the mahamri so much that mama kibanda noticed and added me some more totaling to 6. I paid 45 bob and left. All I needed now was to find means to reach my cousin.

I approached a simu ya jamii operator and told her that I needed to make a call but the number was in my simcard. She told me no problem and I retrieved it from my bag. She fixed it and asked me if it had airtime. I had a balance of 18 bob. She asked how I had saved him and she handed me the receiver. It went through and when we connected, I told him that I was at Mwembe Tayari. He told me that he was busy to pick me up but he would send his friend who was a driver plying the Kongowea Likoni route to pick me up. He told me that he would send him my number but just before I let him know that I was calling from a simu ya jamii, disconnection! The operator copied the number and installed her simcard back so that I would finish up the call. She dialed again and it went through. He received and I told him that it was me again and I was calling from a booth so sending me his number was the best idea so that I would dial him to know his location. He agreed and said that he would send it to my simcard. After some time, the operator reinstalled my simcard and sure enough, new messaga, the number was there. She copied it, reinstalled hers and dialed the number. It went through and I informed the driver that I had been referred to him by Kebete, my cousin. He told me to board a Likoni dala dala and call him from there. The deal was good as sealed and asked the operator how much I was to pay. 120 bob! I felt that I had been robbed but issorait, nimesaidika. I thanked her and bid her bye as she directed me where to board a Likoni dala dala.

Fare, 30 bob and within some time, I was looking at the ferry. On me was only 30 bob so I had to be really smart. I approached a kiosk guy and asked where I would get a simu ya jamii operator. ‘Labda ng’ambo ile ingine kaka,’ he told me in that pwani accent. I didn’t need anybody to tell me how things went around the ferry since I’d see where people waited to aboard as well as vehicles. In some minutes, the vessel docked on our side and everybody secured a position aboard. I was already enjoying this why lie! I loved the oceanic view and felt peace + freedom hug me cordially. I asked a dude standing next to me if it was illegal to take photos around. He advised me that it was not a so much welcome idea but provided I did it secretly, no harm would befall me. I’m the face of discretion, so that would be a virtue perfection task. I got my Kodak film camera, disabled flash and told him to take me some. He complied and there I was all happy! They were the last shots mshipi ikajaa. We engaged in some talk as I recoiled the film ndio nitoe and that’s when the docking alert came. We were at the other side and parted with my crime partner. I passed through hiyo soko ya samaki and as I exited, I saw a simu ya jamii booth.

‘Vipi kaka, naomba kupiga simu.’ ‘Nambari unayo?’ ‘Ndio.’ Wataka kutumia hela ngapi?’ ‘Ishirini.’ Hiyo hela kidogo sana dogo sijui kama mtaelewana ila ilete nambari tu.’ The guy was either in his late 20s or early 30s. I gave him the driver number and he dialed it. He gave me the receiver and it went through. He received and I told him that it was Kabete’s cousin and I was in Likoni. There seemed to be a network failure and I’d not hear him. Some more hello hello and the call was disconnected. ‘Hela imeisha bwana mdogo,’ he told me as he placed back the receiver to its position. I was doomed. I thought for a moment and informed the guy that I had a camera and now that I was out of cash, I’d leave it if he dialed for me again. I’d come collect it as I cleared my bill. He for some time did what I thought was eye shining! ‘Leta niione.’ That response made me sigh in relief. I handed over the gadget which he ‘kaguad’ for some time and went for the dialer. This time, the driver was mteja! Tried again and still unavailable. I gave him Kabete’s number and after it went through, I told him that I was at Likoni and his friend was unreachable. He told me to board a Kongowea dala dala that he’d be waiting for me kwa stage. I told him that nimeishiwa na hela. He told me that he couldn’t make to come pick me from there since his side hustle shift had just started. ‘Sasa nifany….’ Tuu tuu tuu, Disconnection!! ‘Umetokea wapi dogo?’ ‘Meru.’ ‘Kutoka hapa mpaka Matta Hospital ni shilingi kumi haya masaa. Jioni hivi nauli itapanda. Eneo hilo linao wameru wengi huenda watakusaidia. Shika hii hela,’ he gave me 10 bob and that’s how I parted with my beloved Kodak camera. I feebly left for the ferry feeling very hopeless. Once on the other side, I boarded a dala dala that dropped me at Matta Hospital.

Evening was knocking and I was all stranded in a new environment and broke. I followed the Tononoka Grounds road past Maximum Miracle Center church trying to site an Amerucan to no avail. I thought to try the opposite direction. I trekked slowly so that I wouldn’t lose any chance to bounce to one. I was also very hungry and walking aint included in power saving mode. I got to the junction again and crossed. A few meters ahead, I saw what activated my reserve energy. A banana leaf hanging. I arrived and even before I talked, I heard an Amerucan heated convo. Their cheek bulges made me feel at home. I felt calm again. I explained to them everything about my failed link up. They told me not to worry that they would aid me get to Kongowea the next morning. They poured me coffee and I bought ‘ngumu’ with my last coin. They never gave me some twigs so after some time I started dozing off. They guarded dala dalas parked near the kiosks so one of them opened up one of them and told me to feel comfy. He joined the others to do what we do best as a sound slumber engulfed me.