A familiar sight in a Bongo grocery is tables of men (and women, at times) on which there’re trays of juicy meat crowned by ugali, potatoes or bananas.
Eating and drinking. That’s the Bongo modern-day pub culture. A man goes to a watering hole, not just to drink, but to eat as well. A familiar sight in a Bongo grocery is tables of men (and women, at times) on which there’re trays of juicy meat crowned by ugali, potatoes or bananas.
Filling your stomach is important if you’re to avoid dangerous diseases such as ulcers, you’ll hear a man say as he attacks the meal from his side of the table. And if he’s the one who is paying, he could even accompany this very important observation by a huge belch. A mark of good health and power…ahem!
Eating and drinking was also there in the days of yore, but not to today’s extent. In those days, a drinker would be contented with eating a mshikaki or two, basi. Bites. Vitafunio or asusa, we called them.
Oh yeah; people of yesteryear didn’t go to drinking establishments to gorge themselves with mountains of beef, goat meat, chicken or kiti moto (pig meat). Drinkers would simply take something small in fear of overfilling one’s stomach with grab out there to the extent that one would later fail to take one’s wife’s food. Thubutu!
In the days of our fathers, you’d rather eat your wife’s meal and end up constipated, for anything short of that would result to a domestic war.
“Oh yeah, are you sick?” mama watoto would ask a hubby who’d say he isn’t eating her supper.
“Aaa…I’m not sick as such; I simply don’t feel like eating today, sorry,” the hubby would say, sounding genuinely apologetic.
“So, my dear husband, who feeds you these days?” she’d ask.
“I beg your pardon?” the guy would ask so as to hear a repeat and confirm that what he heard was actually from the mouth of his mama watoto.
“You heard me! You say you aren’t eating my food… whose food have you eaten for supper today?” she would say.
“I’ve not eaten anyone’s food, haki ya nani… I swear,” the guy would say.
It would go on and on…. The guy would even swear in his mother’s name, the ultimate oath which, in some Bongo communities, is considered more serious than swearing in God’s name. So after the guy says, “Naapa kwa jina la mamangu, sijala kwa mwanamke yeyote,” the mother of his children would say, “Okay, but… anyway, let me not say anything; let’s go to bed.”
The guy would feel safe, for what he said, whose truth which he fortified by the invocation of his mother’s name, didn’t mean he never ate anything out there; he simply said he wasn’t fed by any woman out there.
How about today’s mamas, in this period of Bongo’s history when men eat to their fill anywhere? They really don’t care. In any case, it’s not they who cook the food. Dada wa nyumbani, that is, the house girl, does.
For them it is: eat the food or leave it, who cares? Everybody is busy. Those will normally be the words in her mind as she checks out the hotpots and discovers baba watoto didn’t touch the food meant for his supper.
It’s no big deal to today’s mama watoto because, she could as well be grouping you in the league of Vanessa Mdee’s dume suruali. That is, men who consider themselves simply because they wear trousers. Ha! Ha! Ha!
You’re aware of all these things, so it’s no wonder you aren’t shocked when, on this other bright afternoon, you walk into a grocery and find a man having chapatti, which he washes down with beer.
Yes, chapatti with beer alone. He has before him a plate of chapattis and a bottle of big Serengeti lager with which he’s downing his meal without the use of a glass, tarumbeta style, the way you do it with the small variety of the same brand.
You conclude that he must be single, but you soon learn you’re wrong. You learn the truth when, not long after the guy is done with his lunch, a woman walks in and joins him.
Your paparazzo curiosity (not umbea, please!) takes the better of you and you call Neema, a barmaid you’re most familiar with at this place and ask her conspiratorially: “Eti, who’s that woman who has just joined the guy who has been eating chapatti with beer?”
“Oh, that? It’s his wife.”