Cool Travel: Kisii Town, the Nice and Nasty bits

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In Narok, Baha smoked his cigarette and waved a goodbye to the sun. It had been scorching hot and the White Cap was warming up a little too fast.

Narok is the logical midpoint between Nairobi and Kisii and we were running out of time. We had spent three hours with a top political fixer for one of the largest political parties in Kenya. We discussed the victimhood mentality presently pervasive in the country and our hatred for intellectuality, the Sonko saga, and how his goose was cooked from pre-2016 elections as well as the pettiness of the political class when it comes to selfish interests.

We talked about what we’d rather our country was like and made fun of the fact that winning the MCA seat is a better metaphor than the idea of a camel going through the eye of a needle as compared to a rich man reaching heaven. The politics for MCA are rough, petty-small, and dirty. Your voters know the day your shorts split in the middle at class six and they won’t stop to remind you how the base of your loins looked darker than a witchdoctor’s tobacco tin.

We needed an offensive drive to make it to Kisii on time and that onus went to Baha.  Some people are born rough. I am not one. I needed some time at the back-left to catch up with my Whatsapp and listen to Silas Nyanchwani’s political tales and their histories. It is easy to notice how the Maasais of Narok give way to Kalenjins of Sotik before bordering with the Kisiis who neighbor the Luos on the other side. The Kisiis must have suffered a linguistic disadvantage with their Bantu tongue that has no chance on their Nilotic neighbors. That can explain why they are stretched on the land because it looks like they were told to “stay here or we will whip your asses”.

Kisii town is nice and it is not nice. The weather is English and the vegetables are bitter. The girls have nice asses but they need makeup.

The first major disappointment, getting into Kisii territory, was that it was easier to see people going bananas than real bananas. Within three hours we had witnessed three street fights, a county of anger. The second disappointment was that Kisii town looked like a bag of chaos. Buildings sprouted from everywhere like a maize plantation sowed by a madman.

The first fight wasn’t particularly unique to Kisii town. A man driving a Subaru Impreza had knocked a motorbike guy and the bodabodas were surrounding him baying for his blood so much you’d wonder that they hadn’t had blood for a whole year. The bodaboda micro-sector has become the face of resistance in the Jubilee government. In Kisii, there are more motorbikes than there are people, a ratio of three bodabodas for every one person.

When a Kenyan boy turns 18, his parents give him a choice between taking him to college or buying him a motorbike for bodaboda. The bright ones choose college but the brightest ones choose a motorbike. They know that they have a choice to ride a boda today or four years from today.

The second fight was done in Kisii town, I couldn’t really discern the source of the chaos or why two full-ass men were exchanging blows in public. I couldn’t understand why other men formed a circle to cheer them up. At this time Stella Kay had taken away Silas and Baha from me as I waited for an old friend for a catch up. I overheard two Kamba men speaking their language with generous carelessness and I quipped them about the fight and they told me, “Kisii is like that”.

Wait for the third fight. It was funny, even weird. It happened in the place we spent the night, a place I won’t mention for the fear that I’ll accidentally recommend it to you. We woke up to men screaming from the ground floor. Before I forget, it is true that Kisii men actually cry out loud, and they do so in sharp soprano voices.

We checked and at the reception there were two men who were receiving a beating from the hotel guards. Like really a nasty beating. They were accused of trespassing and probably being behind previous break-ins. One said that he was a policeman at some station in a place that has escaped my memory. We later learned that he was a policeman for real, and he had gone out drinking cheap things manufactured in Naivasha with his friend. The good old drink must have taken directions off the men’s heads and they stumbled into violence in their stupor. I don’t know many things, but I know that those men will carry maps to their homes every time they will go out imbibing a drink.

But why didn’t the guards just call the police? Well, that is your Kisii Town problem. They go with “justice delayed is justice denied”. But what is justice?

Stella Kay knows Kisii well. She is a good girl, too. She picked Nexus Bar & Restaurant for supper and, well, a drink. Apart from the fact that people walk in through a very small door, the place was impressive. The waitresses were nice and the barman filled the tot glass when doing me the double of my favorite Johnnie Walker, unlike his Nairobi counterparts who don’t miss a chance to prune the shot. And this may offend my friends because they didn’t notice that I sneaked every once in a while, to charge up with a nice drink, not the lowly and bland Gilbey’s that was lying on the table waiting to give each of us a damn heartburn.

Just like Narok, we ended up in a table with political people. Y’know, MCAs, fixers and top government employees. I was keen to get an understanding of the political landscape in Kisii and I learned that dynasties still run things. It always amazes me how prejudice is such an innate human quality. At the nuclear level there is the black sheep. The terminally angry and problematic uncle does it at the extended family level and villages unite against other villages and the pattern goes up to the top. Human beings unite as much as they divide, the way Kenyans will unite to cheer up Divock Origi for his Kenyan roots before collapsing back to tribal shells and chide Luos for not getting the “cut”. It makes me think that Immanuel Kant hadn’t thought it through when he dreamt of a universal republic uniting the whole world.

Another lovely thing about Kenya is that we make rules we like breaking. It doesn’t matter whether you are in Makueni or Kilifi, but the guy supposed to enforce the curfew always has ten bottles of Tusker on his table two hours after 10PM. I am not trying to say that was the case in Kisii, but you know what I mean.

Is Kisii the headquarters for misogyny in Kenya? Social media will tell you so but things on the ground are different. I saw, firsthand, Kisii men pulling chairs for women and one asking his girl if she was fine every thirty seconds. I won’t draw any conclusions, though, because I know hyenas protect their food with everything they have.

Generally, some places are overly nice. Other places are nice, through and through. Kisii Town is nice and it is not nice. The weather is English and the vegetables are bitter. The girls have nice asses but they need makeup. The men are hardworking but they think responsibility ends with paying bills. The streets are lively and people are nice to strangers but the bodabodas are a menace. The town has a good ambition but the witches killed the city planner.

Is Kisii the headquarters for misogyny in Kenya? Social media will tell you so but things on the ground are different. I saw, firsthand, Kisii men pulling chairs for women and one asking his girl if she was fine every thirty seconds. I won’t draw any conclusions, though, because I know hyenas protect their food with everything they have.

Generally, some places are overly nice. Other places are nice, through and through. Kisii Town is nice and it is not nice. The weather is English and the vegetables are bitter. The girls have nice asses but they need makeup. The men are hardworking but they think responsibility ends with paying bills. The streets are lively and people are nice to strangers but the bodabodas are a menace. The town has a good ambition but the witches killed the city planner.

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