Down Memory Lane- The Sigarame


Village Elder
Jana katika shuguri zangu pale Ruaka kwa Mbirrioneya @rollout, I saw an old jallopy written "The Sigarame" kwa kioo ya nyuma. The car was an extremely old Mini Morris (KQA...), or something like that. Too bad my camera wasn't ready.

That word took me back to when we were growing up. I had a dog that we used to call Shingarame. Dont ask me why, or what the name meant or even where it had come from. Even Google doesn't know. That time, we had a very close family, and had developed a language that no-one else could understand. Am not talking of ki-atiriro (for those who understand greek). It was a language with proper kikuyu names but we had allocated new meanings. That language survives mpaka leo.

Let me share some of the vocabulary in the language.
  1. Kiumbuthuko:- In my village, there were those illegal changaa dens. People were always on the look-out for police and normally ashamed when coming out from such. Sasa, ukitoka, ni look right, left, right again, then chomoka, or in greek, "umbuthuka". Hence, those dens were called kiumbuthuko. At home, kuna hio kitchen ya nje. It was constructed in a similar design to the changaa dens. So, ungeskia mum akisema "ndehera cumbi kuria kiumbuthuko". Visitors would wonder kwani mum ameanza kupika changaa.
  2. Mahare:- We once had a cat that was so friendly. Paka ikazaa. Now, the kittens were not so friendly and could scratch you the moment you try catching them. So, we nicknamed them mahare (scratchers). The kittens grew up, became friendly, and some were given away, but the name mahare remained in our family to mean kids. So, 20 yrs later, utaskia nikipigia sis simu and ask her how her "mahare" are doing, meaning her children.
  3. Mwamusha:- We also had sheep, zile za manyoya. My dad used to say that breed is called Hampshire something, but we were so young to pronounce the name, hence all the sheep were called mwamusha. Mpaka leo, if you need to buy a goat or sheep for an occassion, sisi husema "Wanjiru, ndugituthinjire mwamusha thigukuu mwaka uyu"- si utuchinjie mbuzi hii sikukuu.
  4. Mata:-At one time, we had a herdsman employed to care for the cows. He was a Turkana. there were also other turkanas employed in the area, so whenever they met, ile kiturkana walikua wanakoroga hapo ni ya ajabu. Sisi wagreek would only hear Mata nai... etc. eventually, we nicknamed him mata. he left, but even the guy who came back still inherited the name Mata. mpaka leo, ata nikivaa kabuti niende kukamua ngombe, utaskia nikiuliza, mata, huleti maziwa kwa nini/ mata became a word for the profession.
  5. Botany:- we grew up like normal boys, meaning we would wet the bed daily. Mum would complain that hio bedroom inanuka kama "mborela", yani takataka. Eventually, the word got shortened to mboo, so mkojo became mboo. Come highschool, and the first born came with the word botany after the first term. Eventually, mboo became botany. Mpaka leo, utaskia tukisema "huyo mtoto ni mchafu, ananuka botany"
  6. Nyuna, Miunire:- Soon, we started smoking. Whenever we saw our parents or bigger sisters, unanyonga hio kitu for future use when it is safe. So, hio piece yakunyongwo become miunire (broken). it became common to get me asking my bro kama ako na miunire- yani hio piece. Eventually, even complete cigarettes adopted the name. So, borrowing a cigarette became "he miunire", and later on turned to "nyuna"- break me. Sasa leo, whenever we need a smoke, just tell the bro, Nyuna.
Did you people have similar vocabulary?