Baba Mwende, his wisdom and why poverty is a choice…

“If you are poor, it’s because you have allowed yourself to be”.

These are not my words. They were spoken by some professor whose name I can’t remember, partly because it was many years back, but mainly because I didn’t hear it in the first place. What I remember is that the words left me livid.

My fellow drunks in the dingy bar room in Kangemi were threatening to wring the poor bloke’s neck. If only they could reach him through the tiny, heavily meshed TV perched on one corner! It was a Talk Show on KBC in which this supposedly famous and wealthy African-American was giving his rags-to-riches story.

“This guy wants to say wiping the sweat off the backside of a cold bottle of Ruaraka liquids gives us syphilis or what?” the drunk on the next table questioned angrily, drawing agreement in a variety of drunken ways from the rest of us.

It is important I point out that when I was youthful, Gonorrhoea and Syphilis were a major impediment to beloved, sweet, carefree sex. HIV was so new and convoluted it didn’t scare anyone, until later.

So, aside from the trademark legs-apart, duck walk to the clinic when you contracted either of the aforementioned STI’s, the only other thing that really bred terror in the hearts of men was getting a girl pregnant out of wedlock. But we’ll talk all about that another day. Today, let’s get to know each other.

“It’s fate. Wealth and lack of lies in fate, period!” was my contribution to the raging poverty banter.

“If you are not meant to be rich, you will never be, even if you get a gazillion jobs,” I concluded burping loudly and feeling cleverer than any other drunk within a 10-kilometre radius. I also demanded that the bartender switches off the TV and plays Musaimo’s disc instead. He did, and soon, we forgot the offending tycoon as we swung our starved forms to the rhythm of a well-strung guitar, coming from an old Jukebox under the TV box.

Stubborn obsession

However, those words by the man from across the oceans stuck in my thinker like a postage stamp did on the wrong envelope. The words became a stubborn obsession. Cars, houses, smart dressing…anything nice would instantly replay the clip.

It is about 25 years later, today, and I regretfully announce that I was wrong. That fellow squeaking through the horrible speakers of the grainy black and white TV in a smoky bar room was absolutely right. If you ain’t wealthy, it is all down to you.

Now, now…you need to calm down and consider your situation very carefully. A conflict with me will only get one nose bloodied –yours. You don’t think so? Well, go ahead and throw the punch.

Good, that’s a member of my security team you just bitch-slapped and if he was not more amused than hurt, you would be reading the rest of this from the inside a soda bottle. Very convincing methods of getting people to do magical stuff, these huge fellows have.

Sufferer is back, but he is now Nebuchadnezzar...

Ah, now a stone! Let’s see if you can throw it over my 30-metre fence. If you are able to, let’s see if you can hit anything other than the well-manicured grass on my expansive compound. Oh, and you might need to first figure out from which of my four luxurious palaces I’m holding this conversation from.

The road won’t be much help either. While you are probably fighting with your wife over the single car you share, or are down on your knees praying that the rains subside so you can get to the stage and to work without getting very wet or muddy, my biggest headache in the mornings is usually which car to use. I love cars and I’ve got a fleet of more than 20, so good luck figuring out which one I’m in.

As you can see, you are massively outgunned, in all sectors –apart from poverty, of course (pun intended). What you therefore need to do is shut up, read my wisdom and go tithe because I took time to engage with you.

Nice to meet you

Glad we got off on the right footing. My name is Kinyua Magite but villagers and friends call me Baba Mwende. My wazungu friends, unwilling to accept that I evaded their colonising trap of giving children Western names, pretend to struggle with a simple African name and call me Baba Wendy instead. I don’t respond –unless of course they are about to sign a cheque.

I am also quite wealthy. Nope, won’t give you a figure. Perhaps if KRA staff cannot read, then I would. I do pay taxes, that I do, but that’s where this conversation ends.

Mwende is my first born daughter. She just joined university. Then there’s Mutuiri and lastly Kathure. Their mother, Wairimu, is a pretty thing from some place in Nyeri called Muchatha.

I turned 52 in August and I’ll let you in on a fact. The fellow who told you life starts at 40 must have drunk diesel for breakfast. It starts at 50. You still have time. And see, I’m not that bad after all. You are even beginning to like me.

You may say I am arrogant and proud. You will be right and wrong. My analysis of myself is arrogant but not proud. . But whichever way, I really don’t care.

When you are rich, like I am, you can look as haggard as this Virgin billionaire, Richard Branson or walk across countries in a Sh100 hood in the company of government ministers who are sweltering under imported suits like this Facebook boy whose name I can’t spell and it really doesn’t matter.

For now, think what you must. No one can take thought away from you.

But God willing, I’ll see you in a week’s time…unless you are a tenant in this Huruma flat that I need demolished. In that case, I’ll see you some time during the week, probably at night when you least expect. The building is mine and if I decide a supermarket will bring more money in its place, then that’s what I build. The eight months you’ve lived rent-free courtesy of the Rent Tribunal, well, there’s more than two ways of skinning a cow…

You may also Like

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *