You’re one of the many admirers of Mame Rose. For those unfamiliar with our Kiswahili etiquette, she’s thus referred to after her child, Rose. The girl is her firstborn.
Mame Rose is a very famous (or if you like it, notorious) woman within our neighbourhood. The kind that would’ve been referred to as a socialite if ours were a more sophisticated locality. Well, it’s not. How can it be while most of the roads leading to our houses are rendered impassable whenever it rains? Or, even when it’s not raining, several of the roads remain impassable since there’re all these property owners, including owners of multi-storey buildings, who cleverly release their waste water to go to wherever it wants?
Mame Rose is a notoriously likeable middle-aged lady! Nobody knows precisely her source of income, for her usual claim that she has rental premises is widely dismissed as untrue. What’s not in dispute, however, is that she, Rose and her sibling, a school-going boy, live in their own house.
She freely talks of her heyday when she had an affair with an Italian who came to Bongo years ago as a tourist, met her and fell in love. The man went back to Italy for more and cash and returned to Bongo. Word has it that it’s this Mzungu who built her the house.
“I travelled to Italy several times to be with my man…he was a widower,” she often brags to whoever has the ears to listen. To underscore that, she’ll utter a few sentences in her purported Italian, which nobody in your drinking circles understands. It means, we can’t vet her on the issue of her competence in Italian!
One of the best things about Mame Rose is that she’s good at appreciating an offer. Very generous with her compliments. “You are great man, my brother Muyanza…if this neighbourhood of had at least five people with your kind of heart, it would be heaven on earth,” she once said after you offered her two, instead of the one beer you normally buy for anybody who you’re certain is unlikely to buy you anything in return, now or in future!
Another good thing about her is that she’s a good source of unsolicited information. She knows virtually all our neighbourhood’s conmen, married men and women of loose morals, non-paying borrowers, men who live on women, the sick, etc, etc.
Like today when, after one beer from you, one from Uncle Kich and another from your ndugu, Esaya, she leans and gets close to your ear, then says while pointing discreetly to a beautiful, curvy girl one of you (ssssh!) offered beer earlier, and says: “That girl…she’s a good friend of mine; I knew her through her father and know what? She’s on ARVs…for the past two years now…it’s me who took her Angaza for an HIV test!” A good friend of hers indeed, you say to yourself!