Tuesday, October 14, 2008

of belts, bellies and beers

In the days when Zambia had a copper belt, Kisumu also had a belt. but it wasnt a mineral belt but rather a beer belt. It was actually a shopping center near the social hall otherwise known as wanainchi. the name stemmed from the fact that the area was surrounded with several bars, restaurants and 'lodges' (actually just sin rooms) Wanainchi was incidentally close to our estate and in the night we could hear the likes of Owino Misiani belting their benga away into the night. The Gor Mahia songs were very popular and i could hear him sing them over and over. in these joints the patrons often ask for an encore after parting with a small amount the musician can even put your name in the song if your pocket smiles nicely.

Well that was then. But last Thursday i saw another beer belt. this time in the heart of Nairobi. actually just at the Nairobi West shopping center. I have never passed by the center in the evening or night. and this day i made the blunder of blunders by trying out a short cut near the shops. Cars were packed till the road with only a small passage left for pple like us to pass. Invariably we got into a gridlock since another car came from the opposite end. being Kenyans where road courtesy went for lunch and has never returned, neither of us was willing to yield ground and we stayed there for like ages before another young man who washes cars there came to our senses.

All the pavements and even part of the parking lot had patrons downing their favorite drinks and enjoying hearty chat music and nyama choma. Kenyans will not divorce nyama choma even though cases of gout and related issues are increasing by the day among young upwardly mobile.
what shocked me was that the place is like a sea of bars some small with a few patrons others having patrons spilling out onto the streets like a defiant beer belly.

But i was not interested in that beer belt of nairobi, i was instead looking forward to taking my wife for some good music near nyayo. the place is not your ideal joint. seats are hard to come by and even walking space is a luxuryy given the size of the crowd. But from the cars packed outside, you can tell that this might even be above your class! The musician called Omondi Refa was doing his best belting hit after hit. mostly originally done by others. but his style is unique and he is a young man dressed like a teenager. its difficult to associate him with ohangla. from his dressing he should be singing the likes of "...watuuu, munajua ni aje ?..." yet the patrons were people above middle age whose mid rifs have already formed a permanent grand opposition.

Even though we weren't able to dance since the place was packed to capacity, we enjoyed watching those who could, try their styles out. Now when watching those young Congolese dancers on Citizen, you would think dancing is an easy thing. maybe they should be warning pple not to try that after a certain age or size. it was simply hilarious watching those not so young men and women try to shake their heavy waists around and throw their arms in the air like Koffi Olomides dancers. funnier yet was odd couples of very old men trying to impress some gals who seemed as old as their last born daughters. yet on the other side i could see rather slim guys with partners of the plus size. truly opposites attract!

But Refas efforts are not in vain and his music at the stadium has actually created a small economy. beer sales seemed to be doing well even though world economy is in a coma. and Obama shirts, badges, capes etc were also going like hot nyama choma. just outside, newspapers vendors did good business as did sausage vendors, there was even chicken roasted on open fire and you could get it with ugali, chips etc. Even the favorite nyama choma was available. Maybe Akina McCain could learn a few tips on economic stimulation from the musician.

1 comment:

  1. The mission is clear. To conquer the Beer Belly Challenge, our contestant must do one thing,achieve beer belly status as judged by the Studio 15 judiciary. Susanna will be our first contestant. As you can see, she has a long way to go.
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