Machakos town, called Masaku by people the from South Eastern, hit prominence in the early days of Alfred Mutua’s governorship, and the much hyped – deservingly – Masaku 7s that brought fired up opinions, some inconsequential, some religious and others as wasted as some of the people of this Y generation. No, I am kidding.
For residents of Machakos and Makueni Counties, Masaku holds a unique place in their hearts, and 95% of that sentimentality is housed in T-Tot Hotel, a modest eating joint has been around longer than Kenya; the Republic.
When you talk about Chapatis, T-Tot has held the national trophy for sixty years in a row, and I can assure that the trophy is going nowhere.
All tales about the hotel start with …’my dad used to bring me here on my way to school’… and that is someone in his sixties saying that. It is easy to bump into an old friend, a high school heartbreaker or the conman who ran away with your money on April 19th 1983, at T-Tot on a random Thursday afternoon. Through the years, the hotel has evolved to become part of the Akamba conscience, in a camaraderie fashion that makes consistency look ordinary, quality look easy and efficiency go unnoticed. Sir Alex Ferguson would tell you that simplicity is hard work, but, before we piss fans of Liverpool (who we knocked off the effing perch), can we get into the nitty-gritty … no, let’s nitpick T-Tot Hotel.
For ease, we will assume that you are some young married man in Kitui, Machakos and Makueni. You are going home on a Saturday, with your young family, maybe a baby or two, but for clarity, let us assume that you are going home for holidays with your son who turned nine last month. Maybe there is a small function in your home, and your wife had to wake you up by force to start on the journey, and there is some whisky from last night dampening your gait. No, I change my mind, let’s assume you went out with boys and found yourself in Machakos early in the morning. Before you go to your missus for execution, pass through T-Tot, and;
Order for some Musingo Soup and one Chapati
The Musingo Soup at T-Tot hotel comes hot and peppered, and it is always the same taste every single morning. It will wash your sins and lighten up your eyes, maybe plant a tear if you are not a pepper-guru, as if there is any pepper-guru. It is also very likely that you will be bewildered by the marriage between the soup and Chapati. You will take a moment to wonder how Chapati became a national delicacy, yet it has only been around for slightly over than 100 years.
When you talk about Chapatis, T-Tot has held the national trophy for sixty years in a row, and I can assure that the trophy is going nowhere. And for the girls, if you find yourself in Machakos, and it starts pouring, just run into T-Tot, grab a Chapati and use it to shield your weave. It will save you some coins and you will have something to eat once you get home, wet, nyet; rained. (At this point I share my emotions with all women of the weave culture, for the thoughtlessness of NEMA and the Ministry of Environment for ignoring your needs. I know that polythene bags came to rescue, a great lot, but now that we are deep in it, let’s find creative ways to use T-Tot Chapatis). The whole point is; they are big. The President of the United States would call them tremendous, huuuge.
Maybe you still want to turn up at home hungry, convince missus that you got arrested by the alcohol blow guys. Your appetite ought to be intact. So the idea of downing a tremendous Chapati and Musingo Soup may sell you out. My son, you are still safe; order for a triple dose of Samosas. I bet you will know why Michelangelo…no, it was Picasso, insisted on working for 20,000 hours to achieve perfection. (and I know that my friends from central will try to put forward names of places they think have better samosas than T-Tot, and (though I know Kongomaito is Nanyuki comes close) the efforts will be futile).
The guys at T-Tot have perfected the science of making samosas, and that is one thing that you can never take away from a people who have molded the culture of Machakos town. There is more, but that is up to you.
Life can only be understood backwards, and passing by T-Tot reveals to you how much change stays the same. It is a simple hotel that concentrates on cooking good food, feeding the nostalgia of hundreds of people who have seen it all; the hope of young people who hope to take their children to the same hotel and the imagination of young politicians looking to write new narratives. It is a gem. It is about the memories.