In Uswaz, we die having never boarded a Mercedes let alone a plane. We live hoping that one day, fate would hand us an opportunity to take a real flight that more often than not never comes to pass.
Of course, some poor Uswahilinites from the shores of Lake Victoria like my one-and-only woman Bisho Ntongo, whose brothers have their wallets and bank accounts lined with real msimbazis (Tanzanian currency) and fat bank accounts, take a once-for-all air flights, but in their coffins in luggage hull.
I was lucky recently to take a flight while conscious of it. If by any chance a poor Uswahilinite gets an opportunity to take a flight, they will take selfies of themselves at the Julius Nyerere International Airport precincts standing almost hugging those huge aircraft. You can tell that a particular passenger is a villager-turned-Uswahilinite by the frequency with which he or she does selfie – at the lounge, at stairs with aircraft in the vicinity and on the seat. To add to it, they will keep the air ticket for eons to show the children, their children’s children that they once took a flight.
The company that I wear my fingers writing such third-rate columns decided that it was not a bad idea if I took a flight to Zanzibar to run an errand for them. I can swear by all the crocodiles in River Ruaha that I had never been on a plane before. As I gawped open-mouthed those huge tubes that ostensibly ferry human beings and goods to various destinations, I kept wondering how they do it.
I also toyed with the idea of my little spoilt daughter taking a pilot’s career. I however reasoned that firstly, I cannot afford the course and secondly, the only things she had learnt in the entire two years of secondary education include the Bunsen burner and male reproductive system.
As I brooded over that, the intercom announced that passengers taking that particular route should proceed to the flight. My heart was doing acrobatics inside my rib cage in anticipation. I was so disappointed however when I realised that contrary to my expectations, we were taking a Cessna 172 – those dagaa aircraft the size of Volkswagen beetles of the yore.
Usually, they have a wing span bigger than themselves. As the engine gathered speed, I was lost in thought of what would happen if it did one fatal dive. Seated at the window, the thing started taxiing slowly, then gathered speed. The terminal buildings were moving at blurry speed.
Then in a few minutes, the junk was banking and the entire ocean was below us. I have never before loud prayers but on that day, I almost peed on my self!