Monday, September 08, 2014

Buru, my mirror.

Those who are familiar with that bit of Eastlands, Nairobi, known as Buru Buru will be familiar with certain tropes that  define its inimitable culture, never mind Mike Mbuvi Sonko's concerted attempts to change the culture. Even the dimmest bulb in Nairobi, sooner or later, is introduced to Five-Eight, Buru Ka-jinga and Buru Mambao, in that order. Then there are those realities that we have concertedly turned a blind eye to. Five-Eight kanges are a prolific lot; so many of them have sired three children by the time they end up in the Industrial Area Remand and Reallocation Prison for the first time. Their baby mamas - and they do think of themselves as baby mamas - usually, though not always, end up at either Buru Mambao or Buru Ka-jinga, in that order of preference.

Before sheng' made the determined leap from the lexicon of Eastlands and crashlanded awkwardly among the faux French, English or American patois of Kitisuru, Lavington, and L.A. (no, not that one; the one on your way to the Animal Orphanage), Buru's trendiest parents were well-versed, though typically about four dialect generations behind, in the intricacies of sheng' as a vehicle of intergenerational comity.

But in their desire to fit into their wayward sprogs' lives, many parents in Buru Buru forgot certain core lessons that had to be instilled and so the ranks of the teen-mom brigades swelled like the bellies of their daughters and many of their sons became prominent members of the kanges' community plying the Five-Eight or Two-Three routes, the only sensible competitor for infamy to Five-Eight. Not that their sons did any better; there are many parents who now have an intimate understanding of the public healthcare infrastructure, especially in relation to what we delicately refer to as STIs. (No! Not Subaru Impreza STIs. The other STIs.)

There are those of us who were lucky, depending on which side the green grass grows, to escape the boa-constrictor-like hold the district holds. We came back. Eventually. But we are no longer in thrall to its varied and variegated charms. (There is something to be said for the indefatigability of Njoki Ndung'u's successors in the sexual offences NGO circuit otherwise the teen-swollen-belly movement might have kept on claiming new experimentally eager adherents.) Our escapes were not as dramatic as the Silver Screen would have you believe; many, in fact, were mere happenstance: parents snapping out of their Buru-induced stupor and exiling sprogs to parts unknown. (OK. Mostly shags.)

Our return was preceded by some of the worst civic decisions ever foisted on an unprepared populace. Some idiot in City Hall, whom we pray shall have his testicles slathered in pure honey and stuck in an ant-hill, approved like a drunken sailor, hundreds of "extensions" and "security barriers" and now our beloved Buru looks more like a slightly upmarket version of Fallujah. Or Beirut. Nowadays there are more vagrants in our fair district than is acceptable and they all seem to be selling dodgy-looking tomatoes and fried-cum-roasted "meats" of decidedly dubious provenance.

A mere decade-and-a-half ago, Buru Buru was an oasis in a desert of squalor, filth and cultural backwardness. Today, it is competing avidly in a race to the bottom with the likes of Doonholm (a slightly upmarket Kayole), Kariobangi South (the only difference with Jerusalem is the streetlights), Ngei (even DoD HQ no longer considers it fit for even an unmarried bachelor), Ngumo (the phrase "trying too hard" comes to mind) and Lavington ("ni mbeca!" is the sound that rings through). The decline of my beloved district is mirrored in the decline of my beloved city and the increasing crass obsession with penises, vaginas and Vera Sidika's bum.

No comments: