I am not a hawker. I don’t walk around selling stuff.
Cool way to start a post huh? You’re probably wondering where this starts from. And I’m probably sounding like common writers who look for your attention by force. Sorry. Somebody called me a hawker and I had to set the record straight. Publicly. I don’t know what is wrong with her! How do you call me a hawker? Umewainiona nikifukuzwa na kanjo?
Anyway I’m joking. Nobody has ever called me a hawker. But I bet there are some few elements who think I am. Yes. You know you can never tell what a person thinks about you? They can look at you with a smile yet inside they’re full of scorn. Especially when you’re me: in a large, almost fading green t-shirt, with blue jeans and the usual brown Maasai open-shoes carrying a bucket full of ice and sodas walking around distributing (selling) to a crowd of people.
Let me get this clear to you. Last year December is where this story starts. Maseno University was having a graduation ceremony. You know home is a few kilometres from Maseno. I have never sat through any graduation. Not even in Moi University. In fact, I’m not even planning on sitting through my own graduation in 2016/17. But on this particular graduation I had to. Not because of the people I knew who were graduating. Rather, because I was hawking. Yes hawking: Walking around selling sodas, juice and scones.
It’s Diana who came up with the idea. She asked:
“Hii graduation unaplan kumake pesa ngapi?”
I looked at her wondering. People make cash during graduations? Personally, I sleep all day when I’m in Moi University. I’ve only ever bothered about graduations when I was a kid. You see when we lived in Maseno, Presidents would pass by our gate when headed to the graduation square. Serious. Moi once stood right outside our gate and handed some mama a bundle of cash. Kibaki ndio alikuwa anapita tu.
Back to Diana:
“Aah…” I started out. Not knowing what to say.
“Mimi lazima nitoke hapo na 10k,” She continues.
How? I wondered. Maybe there’s a way people make money and I would sound moronic if I didn’t know…
But she goes on to explain.
I don’t want to bother you with the details. To put it plainly, we were going to be hawkers for one day. Selling drinks and edibles to the people gathered. And people carry themselves in big buses from all over Kenya to come witness their sons and daughters graduate. Waste of time if you ask me.
It was a daunting task getting our stuff into the square. Gate pass nini nini. But once we did, we hit it off all at once. Soda ndogo 50 bob. And the tiny Ksh. 5 scones were going for Ksh. 15. At first people were laughing. Nobody wanted to buy overpriced stuff. Wacha jua ianze kuchoma watu… Then hunger kicked in as the ceremony dragged itself on…
Later that evening when counting the cash and realising I had done 105% profit, I remembered the look she gave me, another girl in the crowd. She looked at me head to toe as I handed her that bottle of soda. She looked at me ungraciously. Her lips contorted. This thing that they try to call duck-shape, duck-face, whatever. She looked like she hated what I was doing. Like she wouldn’t want to ever look at me again. She’s this type of girl who thinks overdoing makeup makes her more appealing.
Girls, I don’t know the name you give to this stuff you apply around your eyes. She had a dark lining on her eye lashes and a purple lining under the eyes. I can’t quite tell the colour of her lipstick. Not that I’m colour-blind. Plus she had glittering stuff on her face. Her hair was off some dead horse. Hands off our horses!
‘Mmmph, who pays for your hair?’ I thought as I gave her the bottle of soda.
The next day at Sirari, Tanzania, just before entering the immigrations office, I hear a little girl screaming.
“Daddy,” she’s tapping her dad’s laps. “Angalia yule alituuzia soda jana!”
I wave and laugh.
‘Ssshh. I am not a hawker.’ I want to tell her that. ‘I just couldn’t let the opportunity of making such an amount pass me by’
“Tafadhali nipe kadi yako ya homa ya manjano,” the immigration officer shouts from the other side of the glass.
“Ati homa ya?” I ask almost laughing, “Yellow fever card, you mean?”
When we are done with immigrations and we’re back in the car, the radio is blasting Ringtone: “Usichague Kazi… Kazi ni Kazi… Mungu atabariki kazi ya mikono yako”
I remember the way my shosh always says “wira ni wira hakuna cha kung’ethia!“