We’re in a location in the Moshi Municipality called Old Moshi, most likely so-named because it was where the original Moshi Town used to be.
(My watani please communicate through the address below and educate me). Don’t wonder why Wa Muyanza didn’t ask while there, because the truth is, everybody was uptight as they mourned the death of one of their own, Ms JM who was recalled by her Maker on December 6.
With a couple of friends from Dar, we somehow manage to sneak away and take a look at the surroundings of this place called Mbokomu. Curiosity is part and parcel of being a scribbler, au siyo?
This is Ndiziland, where it’s not uncommon for the wenyeji to have bananas for breakfast, bananas for midmorning snack, bananas for lunch and even more bananas for supper! And, as if that weren’t bad enough, they’d proceed to wash down their banana meal with grayish, sweetish coarse banana brew, namely mbege!
You were exposed to mbege just a few years after independence, for it was also popular in Kandeland—
the mountain territory to the south of Ndiziland—your birthplace where another name for food is kande.
We ended up at the Lema Grocery, owned and run by a seventy-plus old guy, Babu Lema. We ask for mbege.
“You people from Darisalama also drink mbege?” the old man asks, noting that he never expected to have anyone asking for mbege on this particular occasion, since “it is not Christmas yet.”
It’s clear he was basing his stocking on Chasakas (literally, people from the wilderness, or more politely, non-Ndizimen and women), who are here to lay to rest a daughter of this land.
We explain to him that we want mbege, mainly because we’re keen on something local. “We take lots of beer in Dar and now that we’re here, we feel we should have something different,” you say.
“Okay, I can send someone to fetch mbege from somewhere else…you’ll have to add one thousand on top of the four thousand required for the jerry can of mbege you need,” he says.
“An extra one thousand?” you ask, “what for?”
“For the bodaboda; mbege is found some distance from here,” he explains.
“It’s okay,” you say.
A bodaboda rider is soon hailed and directed to us. You give him five thousand bob. In less than ten minutes, the young fellow is back and we promptly start working on the mbege.
It’s cool and refreshing. We, however, unanimously agree it’s a little too soft, so we call Babu Lema and ask for a kasichana, that is, the 200ml Spirit of the Nation bottle.
The kasichana gives the mbege the necessary kick and before long you’re feeling really nice in the head as you drink from a huge plastic mug which you pass around. Like it used to be in the good old days.
What a pity you’re here, not to eat Xmas with your watani, but to bury a most beloved media colleague! RIP, Joyce Mmasi.