“Shake your bambam, kwenda sukuma! Shake your bambam, kwenda sukuma! Shake your bambam, kwenda sukuma! Shake your bambam, hapooo!”
You know I love Sauti Sol. So much. I write about them. I sing their songs. I tweet about them. And believe me, this is not one of those ati I don’t know why I love them. Ah ah! I know exactly why my mind is completely obsessed by them; why I can’t stop thinking about these four men. Oops. Oops. Not that way. They take my breath away- in a good way. It’s because they are very consistent in the degree of the quality of their music. Every subsequent production is just richer in talent than the former and oh my! Those smiles and biceps! Anywhuuu.
As usual, Thursday afternoon after a grueling Computer Science class in which my key takeaway after three hours was that Database Management Systems is DBMS but people often say DMBS which in real life means Discounted Mortgage-Backed Security. Point is, I’m wasting school fees. So afternoon yes, blasting some Sauti Sol – Shake Your Bambam on my Xiaomi Earbuds. I felt really tempted to get off my bed and dance the song but; ah! Ni kazi mob na silipwi.
So the song! I digress. Sorry. The song was beautifully loud. Bien-Aime there “Danse danse mamaaaa.” Instinctively, with my eyes closed, I started thinking about dancing that song on some coastal shore. It’s around 6 p.m. and the darkness is creeping in. I’m in Malindi. I look too good to be alone. I’m with this lady I met in an Airbnb in Kitengela- during one of those campus debriefing weekends. She is very pretty. She looks edible. In a good way. If there’s even a good way. The guests in the adjoining hotel rooms are also out here. The evening breeze is just the stuff. The campfire is already set. Everybody is dancing. The instrumentalists are playing “Shake your bambam” and we are dancing. Happily. This daydream is so cinematic. I’m seeing a glimpse of this girl. She’s in front of me. Grinding. The daydream stops. My eyes are now open. I need to replay this song!
I’m thrown off my initial plan of replaying it by a WhatsApp notification from Elvis. “Kasee! Supper ni 7.30 Clabuu. Usilale fala ii.” It was at this point that I completely forgot about the song and the music and the BnB girl and Malindi and DBMS and Savara and the fire and mortgage and the evening and everything other than Bambam!
There are a couple of memories from your childhood that never get destroyed together with all the other memories that disappear after you get to adolescence. There’s always that one KAM 323M Green Toyota Double Cabin that always brought milk to Kule Dairy memory. Or maybe the first day you stepped into Tuskys AthiRiver and experienced a large supermarket for the first time. Or maybe the day you saw Tr. Edward swim from the shallow end to the deep end underwater and the old man was almost 80 years old. Some things don’t get erased. The first day you saw your crush laugh heartily. You don’t forget that.
And when I’m hungry, I daydream a lot. Just adding this here.
Now, Bambam stuck with me this particular evening. Bambam was one of those words that existed in every household. It hangs from the walls of the hall of Fame alongside the likes of “Susu (pee), Pupu(poo), Kadudu (Omuzigidi), Nyonyo (tirries)”. Yet, some names were just so weird they never made it to the national leagues. The weirdest being “Babure” to mean fart. (Just like saying ‘bamboo ray’ without the m in bamboo) So weird. Yet, my whole childhood, we (village children of Kitengela) ran around screaming, “Brian amebabure! Brian amebabure!” And Brian would run alongside us, his accusers shouting “Sio mimi! Sio mimi! Mimi sijababure” Then when everyone was tired, Brian would do as to what pertained every guilty man – prove his innocence. He would bring his bambam for everyone to smell whether he had babured.
Of course, the concept of diffusion was far beyond our tiny brains. So Brian was innocent. Everyone was always innocent after the smell verification recaptcha. Boys and girls alike. Every time.
Every other time, but once.
You see, Kitengela wasn’t what it is today. There wasn’t any ArtCaffe, or Chicken Inn Galitos or Rubis Fueling Station or Fancy eight bedroom Airbnbs or the three-storey soko and Equity Bank at Milele Centre. Even your favorite Galaxy resort and Pavillion and Enkare never existed. It was just acacia trees, acacia supermarket and Acacia Crest Academy. Eastmatt came just the other day. I need to focus and stop digressing.
As the mighty nation of Kitengela children, we were divided into three groups. Obviously, there was the group of akina Henry and Patel and Barbra who lived in Pena Towers and went to shave at Cool Kutz and took lunch at Paws petrol station and only drank Milimani water. Then there was the larger group of akina Eriki and Kasimba and Kagwera and Kanyi. This was that team that would come over early Saturday morning to watch Club Kiboko at your home because their household incomes could not accommodate getting a tv and/or electricity. Then there was the last group. Kina mimi and Brian. Not rich, not poor. We had a TV yes, and a VHS to watch Mr Bean and Home Alone occasionally. We didn’t have sofas or anything fancy. Just a sitting room with those blue and white vitambaas on every surface, a kitchen that doubled up as the bedroom for boys and house helps (fatal combination) and the main bedroom for mum and dad and the girls.
The toilet was a latrine, communal of course and bathroom too, communal. For the whole plot.
But we played together. All three groups. We played how children nowadays don’t play. We played soccer, hide and go seek, kalongolongo yes, WrestleMania, cobra squad, Kati, Olympics, we raced rims and rolled tires and hula-hooped. Barbra and team taught us cat walking and modelling. Some days we just had ‘Tusker Project Fame’ and ‘Can You Dance’ auditions. On rainy days, we’d play snakes and ladders. Ahh! The good times. I miss those days. Then we would dash home at night. All tired and with no stresses. No worry about calculus, or curfew or bills, or girlfriends who need 100% attention on WhatsApp or an ex that just won’t move on. No stresses. Just eat Ugali and maziwa and drop dead asleep at 8 p.m.
And we would meet again the next day. And Kasimba would have the same t-shirt and Brian would have another shirt but dry skin. Then Henry would come with the soccer ball. He owned the ball so he picked the teams. He would come smartly dressed. Well-oiled face. Smelling like Protex. The herbal Protex. The green one. And in my whole life then, I had always known that Protex was for adults because only mum and dad used it while we used that kipanga soap called Kibuyu. Henry used herbal protex. Probably his parents used Imperial Leather or even swam in bathtub bubble baths. Anyway, Henry smelled amazing.
So this day, let’s call it bambam day. So on this fateful bambam day, the match started as usual. We were just outside our house. For all those who know Kitengela, just outside the chief’s camp, opposite Posta. There was a large tree there and a water selling station. What there currently is at this place today, is this mini mall called Namelok Building with the Olkejuado Offices. It was our pitch. So the game began. Henry’s team was winning. They were taller and stronger. So of course. Also, he had to win so that he doesn’t refuse to come the following day.
You don’t expect any professional skill from six to eight year olds. So there was pushing, and shoving and stamping and kicking and all that good stuff. It was all fun and games until the ball flew into the Chief’s Camp. I am feeling very tempted to leave this story here for the suspense effect (lol) but I know you’ll hate me. Such a tease. Like this madam one day who was in my DMs there weeeh. You naughty naughty, you teasing me! (Inserts Indian Accent). If you want this story just tell me kwa comments.
So, like the ninjas we were, we went into the chief’s camp and immediately one of them macho cops came to us and told us to stand in a line like soldiers. We did. He said he would shoot us. He had an AK47, so of course.
“Mnataka nini! Mtu mmoja aongee!”
Henry, the owner was tongue-tied. It was a guy on his team that had kicked the ball that hard.
In one sudden reflex, the officer touched Eriki on his shoulder. Poor Eriki let out very audible gas from his bambam.
Very audible, very pungent!
The cop burst out laughing and told us to get the ball and disappear.
Like the moths that we are, we instantly forgot about the scary ordeal and left the camp singing senselessly, “Eriki amebabure! Eriki amebabure! Mbele ya polisi!” and as surely as the ritual dictated, Eriki responded, “Sio mimi! Sio mimi! Mimi sijababure!”
Unfortunately this day, this fateful bambam day, the time for the smell verification came. Almost ten minutes later. And I was the first judge.
Now, I don’t know how to put this. Do you see these guards at Mall Entrances? With their metal and bomb detection non sense gear; they train on how to check whether you’re carrying weapons or explosives. Just checking. Now just imagine, hapa nje ya Kitengela Mall, or TRM ama Garden City, and God-forbid for y’all superstitious maggots, that one day, them guards stop a girl at the gate who threatens to blow the place up and shoot people starting with the guards if they try to stop her blow job. (to be removed 😂). When they check her bag, they find a big bomb. (Dat ass is the bomb. Brooklyn 99 reference. To be removed too😂😂😂)
The guards weren’t trained for that. And I was most definitely not trained to sustain pungent babure smell in my face. Never had I imagined that one day we would smell bambam and find actual smell. But I couldn’t suffer alone, so I pretended there was nothing and moved aside to watch the other judges.
The drill was the same. Sniff, get nuked, move and watch. All until Henry got a whiff of the bambam.
“Eew eew eew! Go Wash that Bam Bam! It has pupu!”
Ah. Elvis is calling. It’s 7.30. Supper time.
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