Welcome to the mean footpaths of Thanda Maria. Out here, life is not for the faint of heart, as my friend Wadogo was about to learn.
Wadogo has the misfortune of being the sister to a very unscrupulous gentleman by the name The Hungry Tiger. The Hungry Tiger has the third or fourth driest throat in Thanda Maria, depending on who you ask. He is a gentleman that takes immense pride in his lack of morals.
Wadogo once owned a pig. She had nurtured it through biting poverty for months. Depending on where you stand, nurtured might be considered to be a little too strong of a word to use in this context. It might be a better approximation to say that the animal received the barest minimum standard of care and it didn’t die. Out here, pigs didn’t die that easily, they loved to live. You had to work outstandingly hard to kill one.
In a nutshell, Wadogo’s swine didn’t die; the rest is purely semantics.
The pressures of living became a little too much for Wadogo’s desert-dry pockets and they needed replenishing. So she decided to slaughter the swine and sell the meat to the villagers as all swine owners eventually did. She hired one of the 5 approved killers of swine, approved by no one but themselves, in the village. She settled on her cousin, Kang’ethe wa Rùríciana (Lawrenciana); a man that had never heard of, or met in person, a skirt that he couldn’t like. He is a self-confessed lover of relations of the flesh, but a chronic lack of money does not let him prosper.
Kang’ethe came highly recommended for his lack of regard for life in general and swine life in particular. Outside of petticoats, Kang’ethe cared about nothing.
Kang’ethe did all the groundwork in the week before the swine was slated to die. He stuck papers with a pig-death announcement notice on electricity poles around the village using the sticky liquid from the Mùtarù tree. This was a strenuous, illegal, and hazardous exercise borne out of necessity to get the word out that you were selling pork in your home on a certain date.
All plans were finally in place and the day of reckoning came. Pigs were usually slaughtered at 4 am on Saturday in the village. Kang’ethe came to Wadogo’s house a little before 4 am on that particular Saturday. He was armed with all manner of dangerous weapons. He had on his person a very sharp axe, a machete, and a collection of razor-sharp knives.
Kang’ethe never sleeps. When he has slaughtered pigs for me, I have heard him knock on our gate as early as 3 am having left the same compound as late as 11 pm the previous night. Never mind that the walk from my home to his is a good 30 minutes. He is a night owl par-excellence.
When Kang’ethe and Wadogo made their way to the pigsty at a little before 4 am, there was a deathly silence in the air. The pigsty was located next to a very old and dilapidated mud-walled house that was known as kí-miusiamu; the museum. It was a rickety structure that amazed everyone by the very simple fact that it was still standing every single morning. It was the official residence of the Hungry Tiger. He had inherited it from his late uncle, the crazy old man Warùí.
When the two got to the sty, they were greeted by an empty structure. They searched and searched but there was no swine. They searched in the bushes and there was still no sign of it.
Wadogo began to exhibit the symptoms of the onset of a major myocardial infarction. That is a heart attack if you don’t have a flair for theatrics. By her admission, she nearly lost consciousness. When she regained a little composure, she began wailing uncontrollably. Due to the Hungry Tiger’s well-established unscrupulousness, coupled with his proximity to the sty and all-round lack of morals, all evidence pointed towards him.
Kang’ethe then began to bang hard on his door with a machete. He threatened to kill him once inside. He loudly declared that he had come prepared to kill and he was either going to kill a pig or a tiger. There was no sign of life from inside the museum. It was deathly quiet.
Wadogo then took her wailing to the road. It was now around 5 am. An older gentleman by the name Mbaka happened to be passing by. This man was blessed with a flair for the dramatic and by a long distance the loudest voice in Thanda Maria. He had decibels for days. He had also been a staunch KANU member and a much-hated local official in the nineties. He had attracted the ire of most villagers because we were the hotbed of opposition politics and the home of the leading multi-party agitator, Kenneth Stanley Njindo Matiba. My grandfather disliked the man intensely.
Mbaka asked Wadogo to let him handle it because he was a self-proclaimed expert in many things and she agreed. By now the racket had attracted a small crowd. They went back to the museum where Kang’ethe finally hacked down the door. Inside the museum, which was as dirty as the sty outside, lay two unconscious men in some sort of embrace on a rotting bed. There was a very strong stench of urine and illicit alcohol. A light was shone on their unresponsive faces. It was The Hungry Tiger and my former classmate, Mbía the rat.
While The Hungry Tiger may possess either the third or fourth driest throat depending on who you ask, Mbía possesses the driest throat in Thanda Maria period. He is by unanimous consent, the thirstiest and most feared user of tonsils wetting fluids of the intoxicating kind.
They were struck severally with nda cia banga, or blows from the sides of the machete’s blade until they woke up. They were completely intoxicated and could barely stand up. They were drenched in their urine and it is often remarked by those that were there that; Nguo ciaitaga mathugumo ta ngata; their clothes were dripping of urine like rainwater gutters in the rain.
Mbaka remarked that they couldn’t possibly have pulled of the massive heist and told Kang’ethe to leave them be. He then approached Wadogo with a supposedly genius plan that did not need the involvement of unnecessary violence and conventional law enforcement. He told her in hushed tones that he had friends in dry places, read Ukambani, with ties to the occult arts and they would take care of her troubles at a small fee. She willingly agreed to this and Mbaka asked for an upfront payment of 500 bob as witchcraft facilitation fee. Wadogo was completely broke but desperate, so she agreed and parted with a whole Jirongo note.
Mbaka got to work immediately. the next week or so he set off around the village putting his loud-speaker voice to good use reminiscent of his award-winning performances as a KANU campaigner in the elections of 1992. With his thunderous voice, he carried an apocalyptic message of doom for all those that dared and cared to listen. He had flair. He would loudly and repetitively proclaim while walking along the road;
“ Kimenyithia! Kimenyithia! Wí matù ní aigue! Ùría uraiire ngùrwe ya Hannah Muthoni, aheo thikù íkúmi akoro acoketie! Kwaga úguo, ní ekúona úría ekúona! Múndú ndakanauge ndaiguire!”
“Hear ye! Hear ye! Let those that have ears hear! He who stole Hannah Muthoni’s pig has 10 days to return the pig! Failure to do so, they shall face untold consequences! Let no one say that they did not hear this!”
Mbaka repeated this spine-chilling message for eight days. He even went to the local watering holes with it. On the ninth day, a whole day before whatever hell Mbaka was promising broke loose, a very contrite Kang’ethe went to his cousin Wadogo. He confessed to having stolen the pig and asked for forgiveness. He also promised to pay the assessed value of the pig in full. When the occultic consultant Mbaka came to formally withdraw the threats of untold consequences, he demanded to know how he managed to pull off such a heist unnoticed. You see, it is a very difficult affair to quietly steal a full-grown pig because they are excessively loud.
Kang’ethe gave his version of events. He had bought two 500ml bottles of the highly intoxicating Amarios ready to drink vodka brewed on the floor of the Rift Valley at Naivasha. Two standard servings were enough to knock out a consumer of the Hungry Tiger’s standing for a solid 2 hours. He also bought an unsliced loaf of bread. He made a slight opening on the loaf and drenched it with the two bottles of Amarios. He made his way into the compound and to the pigsty late Friday night. He fed the pig the spiked bread and it got very drunk and docile. After a while, they both walked quietly into the night to a waiting customer.
Kang’ethe would later repay Wadogo in full and no love was lost between the two.
And that is the story of how a pig vanished.