May the gods of conversation upon whose altar I worship forgive me, but if the mongoose became extinct, the people of western Kenya would sing hosanna to the Highest.
Since time immemorial, our favourite pastime has been to admire our chicken clucking happily in the backyard the way wazungu fly to Kenya to watch squirrels mating or zebras peeing in the wild!
Occasionally, we are rewarded with a cockfight but that is not the main reason admiring chicken is like a tourism adventure. We watch them and do what youngsters call ‘kukula na macho’ or what the son of Jomo would refer to us ‘kumeza mate’ as we imagine little kids chasing after them the way police have been terrorising and hunting down villagers in Mumias over stolen guns.
We picture a Muslim neighbour whispering “bismillah rahman raheem” and doing the honours to make the meat halal. The people of mulembe being the most generous of souls, we would hate for a Muslim guest to pop in unannounced and not have to eat, being reduced to ‘kukula kwa macho’ as wananchi do when the high and mighty are wolfing down matunda ya uhuru.
Suddenly, our reverie is rudely interrupted by a chickengate along the fence. Chui, the resident mongrel races to the scene, tail high, in the manner our Flying Squad swings gallantly into action. But by the time he arrives, it is too late. Only feathers and bloodstains remain, to remind us of a chicken meal that will never be. The mongoose, sneaky little bastard, has swooped in, grabbed a teenage jogoo and vanished into the sugarcane farm.
The main jogoo of the home, happy that a snooty little rival for the fringe benefits of his harem has being exterminated, nonetheless sheds crocodile tears, going, kokokoko-kolioko! Kokokoko-kolioko! (Emanyanga enjenda nende bunduki (how I wish I had carried my gun). Big deal. By then, the young jogoo, like the billions spirited out of the National Youth Service, is gone forever.
That is why every western Kenya mongrel grows up knowing the mongoose is to be loathed. Our mongrels are born with an innate hatred of this creature. Indeed one could be dozing and dreaming of the next mating season, but the moment its nose catches the faintest whiff of a mongoose, it jerks into action with amazing ferocity ready for murder.
The problem, however, is that not all mongooses are chicken thieves. So imagine we have this prayerful mongoose, a vegetarian to boot, that is strolling down a village path from a fellowship – what my people of the Anglican Church call pastrolia.
Unfortunately for our born again mongoose, it passes by a homestead which is mourning the poaching and murder of a promising young jogoo with many years of feathery skirt-chasing ahead.
Before our mongoose knows what is happening, an alarm has been raised and all the village boys, including those whom the mere thought of facing the knife makes them wet their khaki shorts, run to the scene screaming blue murder. Aided by their mongrels, they set upon the innocent, prayerful mongrel and clobber it to death.
When Wanga elders said a mongoose dies for the sins of another, they probably had Kenya Police in mind. Not too long ago, Ahmednassir Abdulahi claimed that our maximum security prisons no longer hold robbers but are stuffed with sex offenders. “The CID no longer investigates violent crimes,” he scoffed.
I don’t know about that but I can tell you for sure is that in the event that a violent crime occurs, like say seven guns getting stolen at a place called Pukasi (Booker) in Mumias, the modus operandi of our cops is to arrest anyone acting in a suspicious manner within close vicinity. If you are a man, they kick you in the nuts. If you are a woman, they stuff a rungu in that place with a name women only mention when they are dead.